Medical Professionals Link Vitamin Supplements to High Blood Pressure, Liver Damage, and Other Ills

Joel Eisenberg

As the availability of vitamin supplementation is not monitored by the FDA, doctors continue to study links between product claims and pre-existing medical conditions.

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Vitamin SupplementsPhoto byShutterstock

Author’s Note

As with many medications, vitamins may interact with certain prescription drugs. It is highly advisable, per medical doctors, to consult with a physician in the event of new or existing vitamin supplementation.

This article is based on science-related postings and accredited media reports. Linked information within this article is attributed to the following outlets: VeryWellHealth.com and The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute of Health.

Introduction

The world of vitamin supplementation is often misunderstood. Medical science has for decades debated the efficacy of such supplementation, as some doctors strongly support their use but also warn against potential misuse. The primary issue is, as with prescription drug interactions, vitamin supplementation can negatively interact with prescribed medicine. As vitamin supplements are not monitored by the FDA, the issue is compounded.

Let us explore further.

Supplementation Research, 2022

A November 28th article written by Cathy Nelson and medically reviewed by Melissa Nieves, LND, RD, entitled “Top 9 Vitamins That May Raise Blood Pressure,” contains both general warnings and a list of common vitamins to avoid.

As excerpted from the article: Some vitamins and supplements, such as coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) and melatonin, have been found to have antihypertensive effects, meaning they can help lower blood pressure.4 However certain supplements have been found to raise blood pressure or interact with blood pressure, blood-thinning, and other medications. It’s important to talk to a healthcare provider before taking any vitamin or supplement.

The specific list of vitamins included in the article include:

  • Arnica: Largely considered safe when used on the skin but not by mouth in pill or other forms. When taken internally Arnica can cause heart issues, dizziness, and other medical problems, and has proven fatal in large doses.
  • Asian (Panax) Ginseng: Frequently promoted to improve memory, reduce stress and restore low blood pressure to normal levels, but for those with high blood pressure it may be dangerous.
  • Bitter Orange: Used historically as a weight loss supplement, studies on whether bitter orange increases blood pressure or heart rate are reported to have produced conflicting results.
  • Guarana: Contains caffeine, which can cause increases in blood pressure, heart rate and heart rhythm.
  • Licorice Root: Utilized for digestive issues, also said to have potentially serious side effects including a decrease in potassium levels, and subsequent increase in blood pressure if consumed in large amounts or over long periods.
  • St. John's Wort: Promoted in part as an anti-depressant, the supplement has also been shown to interact negatively with blood thinners and other drugs.
  • Vitamin E: A popular antioxidant, it is considered potentially dangerous for those on blood thinners.
  • Yohimbe: Commonly used for sexual arousal issues, side effects have included high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and heart attacks. Its use has been restricted in many countries.

The article also states the following regarding vitamins D and K: Vitamin D toxicity, or hypervitaminosis D, is a serious medical condition that typically occurs when very high doses of the vitamin are taken over long periods of time without medical supervision... Symptoms of vitamin D toxicity can include high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias, along with gastrointestinal symptoms, kidney failure, and changes in mental state. Vitamin K helps the blood clot and keeps bones healthy. Vitamin K can interfere with how blood-thinning medications work, which can increase the risk of blood clots, heart attacks, or strokes.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute of Health website features a related article, “Dietary Supplements, What You Need to Know,” that covers similar ground and is equally comprehensive.

From the article: Manufacturers may add vitamins, minerals, and other supplement ingredients to foods you eat, especially breakfast cereals and beverages. As a result, you may get more of these ingredients than you think, and more might not be better. Taking more than you need costs more and might also raise your risk of side effects. For example, too much vitamin A can cause headaches and liverdamage, reduce bone strength, and cause birth defects. Excess iron causes nausea and vomiting and may damage the liver and other organs. Be cautious about taking dietary supplements if you are pregnant or nursing.

The NIH article also advises against supplementation for children, unless okayed by a doctor.

In the event of side effects, the agency advises to take one of the following actions: If you think that you have had a bad reaction to a dietary supplement, let your healthcare provider know. He or she may report your experience to the FDA. You may also submit a report directly to the FDA by calling 800-FDA-1088 or completing an online form.

Conclusion

Though there remains no conclusive proof of the whole-body benefits of vitamin supplementation, there is a growing pool of medical and science professionals who have advised of the dangers of ingesting such supplements especially if the user takes medication for certain pre-existing medical conditions.

In the event of further findings or pertinent updates on the matter, I will share them here on NewsBreak.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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