The Dangers of Supplements and Vitamins

Do you know the best way to bathe your body in cancer-fighting, age-reducing and brain-building chemicals?  The answer is food, NOT supplements and vitamins.

Study after study has shown that, in general, vitamins and supplements have not done nearly as well as hoped for. In fact, that is actually being overly polite:  the truth is that most supplements and vitamins have not only produced lackluster study results but often can be downright dangerous!

Of course, there’s a lot of money to be made here and so rarely will your health stores, gyms or vitamin shops tell you of these dangers.  Remember:  the supplement industry is often no less corrupt than Big Pharma.

Here at Peak Testosterone we are into long term health and will lay all the facts on the table. For example, in 2009 and 2010 researchers at Kansas State University shattered the myth that “more is better” when it comes to antioxidants.  They found that large amounts of antioxidants – Vitamin C specifically in one study – decreased a supposedly dangerous oxidant called peroxide, which is critical for blood flow to muscles and arterial expansion. [9]  That’s right – megadosing on antioxidants could potentially impact both muscle growth and erections.

Again, the list goes on and on, but it’s MUCH safer to rely on exercisediet and sleep for your health!

To give you a feeling just how precarious the supplement and vitamin industry has become, here is a list of just some of the findings on some of the once-hoped-for blockbuster vitamins and supplements:

  1. Vitamin C.  Supplemental Vitamin C has been found to be a carcinogen (nitrosamine) manufacturer if you have more than 10% fat in your stomach.  And, unless you are eating a Low Fat (or Ornish) Diet, you very likely will have greater than 10% fat in your stomach.
  2. Vitamin E.  Vitamin E has overall done very poorly in studies of heart disease, cancer and the like.  One likely reason:  supplements typically contain only one kind of Vitamin E, alpha tocopherol.  Supplementing with only alpha tocopherol actually lowers the body’s most critical form of tocopherol.  One recent large scale study of 300,000 Europeans found that Vitamin E supplementation on average lowered lifespan and decreased quality of life. [8]
  3. Iron.  Almost none of the male multivitamins contain iron any more.  The reason is that only in rare cases to males need supplemental iron.  And extra iron is associated with increased heart disease.  [1]
  • Folic Acid.  Late pregnancy folic acid supplemenation has been associated with increased risk for childhood asthma. [7] Too much folic acid has been found to be associated with an increased risk of GI cancers. It may accelerate leukemia in children as well.  Some experts even recommend against taking it in a multivitamin. Your body uses folate to repair and copy DNA.  Unfortunately, it looks like cancer cells use it as well to accelerate their proliferation. PARTIAL EXONERATION: A recent large-scale, study (on women at least) showed that folic acid and the B vitamins did NOT increase total (or breast) cancer risk “among women during the folic acid fortification era.” [6]
  • Antioxidants.  The big name antioxidants of the 80’s and 90’s have been dethroned one by one in studies of immunity, cancer and so on.
  • Zinc.  Your body has 2-3 g of zinc and over 300 zinc-containing enzymes. [2]  Adequate zinc is important for immunity, testosterone production and estrogen control.  However, zinc has a fairly tight therapeutic window.  Several studies have found increased zinc levels in the brains of Alzheimer patients and many neurologists believe at too high a level it is hard on neurons. Furthermore, overly high doses block copper absorption. Furthermore, one study using 80 mg for one week showed a decreased immune response. [3] In other words, zinc at 1-2 times the RDA of 15 mg boosts and helps immunity, but excess zinc not much past that could actually suppress immunity.
  • B Vitamins.  Megadosing on B vitamins was once quite the health fad.  Now it is known to whack memory and neurons. [10]
  • Calcium.  At about 200% of RDA, Calcium is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer (due to the fact it lowers a key chemical in the body called calcitrol).
  • Niacin.  Megadosing on niacin has several positive cardiovascular effects such as lowering cholesterol.  Unfortunately, it can be very hard on the liver at the same time and, in addition, can deplete your body of the memory-building neurotransmitter choline.
  • CoQ10. A 2009 study discovered that supplementing mice to an equivalent human doses of 1700 mg/day led to hearing and memory loss. [4]  1700 mg is a very high daily dose but these high levels have been explored for various conditions including ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). [5]

This list could go on and on.  Contrast that with the fact that a well-rounded diet with vegetables and fruit has been associated with reduction in many cancers, autoimmune diseases and so on.  This simply cannot be said for vitamins and supplements.

So why does Peak Testosterone sometimes recommend vitamins and supplements?  Two reasons:

1.  There are a few supplements and vitamins that have an impeccable safety record and rock-solid results, especially when taken at normal youthful tissue levels.

2.  Sometimes it is important and good to take supplements and vitamins short term to get past a specific problem or issue that you are facing.  You do not want to become dependent on these for life necessarily, but they can be a valuable tool to allow yourself to get back on your feet.

You will see supplements that fit #2 throughout the site.  Finally, you may to read my link on What Vitamins Everyone Should Consider Taking.  Yes, there are some vitamins and supplement that can hel almost everyone.

HYPERSUPPLEMENTATION:  One writer, Ray Kurzweil, has written that he takes 250 supplements per day and has his cholesterol, LDL, HDL at very optimal levels. His cholesterol is 130 and his HDL is near 60 for example. His motivation is apparently to live long enough until science can finally extend life to near immortality through biotechnology and nanotechnology.

It will be interesting to see how he does: the human body and mind is incredibly complex and there are many subtle nuances. I cannot deny his excellent lipid profile and stats, but feel it is likely that he will run into some sort of health issue from one or more of these supplements. However, even if that is true, he will deserve credit as a pioneer.


1) Circulation, 1994,89(3):969-74

2) Immunity & Ageing, 2009, 6:9, “The immune system and the impact of zinc during aging”, Hajo Haase and Lothar Rink

3) Bone Marrow Transplantation, 2004, 33:1241 1246, Published online 19 April 2004, “Zinc in pharmacological doses suppresses allogeneic reaction without affecting the antigenic response”

4) J of Nutr, Published online ahead of print, “Prolonged Intake of Coenzyme Q10 Impairs Cognitive Functions in Mice”

5) Neurology, 2005 Dec 13, 65(11):1834-6, “Tolerance of high-dose (3,000 mg/day) coenzyme Q10 in ALS”

6) JAMA, Nov 5 2008, 300(17), “Effect of Combined Folic Acid, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12 on Cancer Risk in Women”

7) Amer J of Epidemiology, Received for publication July 7, 2009. Accepted for publication August 31, 2009, “Effect of Supplemental Folic Acid in Pregnancy on Childhood Asthma: A Prospective Birth Cohort Study”


9) Experimental Physiology, Published Online: 21 Jul 2009, 94(9):961-971, “The effects of antioxidants on microvascular oxygenation and blood flow in skeletal muscle of young rats”


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