The hidden dangers of your beauty supplements are revealed: If you think you can’t overdo it with face cream or get too many vitamins and minerals, think again…

Think you can’t overdo it with face cream? Or the more vitamins and minerals you get the better?

Think again. As our beauty routines become more complicated, we must be wary of inadvertently overdosing on ingredients, or mixing and matching products with potentially dangerous results.

“We’re overloading ourselves with too many topical products and crazy amounts of supplements,” says aesthetic expert Dr Mervyn Patterson at Woodford Medical.

He warns that this can cause skin damage, interfere with medical tests and possibly lead to serious health problems.

Read on to learn more…

Be aware of biotin

Biotin, or B7, is a very popular vitamin that is widely used in supplements for hair, skin, and nails. It’s water soluble, which means it doesn’t build up in the body and you don’t need large amounts. “Biotin is only useful as a supplement if you’re deficient,” says nutritionist Emma Bardwell, who warns that overuse can carry risks, including interfering with thyroid and heart tests.

Last year, the British Generic Manufacturers Association wrote to healthcare professionals warning that biotin may affect thyroid function results and patients should be asked about biotin use or skin, nails and hair before testing.

Surprisingly, biotin can also interfere with heart test results. In 2019, the FDA recalled that high doses of biotin can significantly interfere with tests used to measure troponin, a protein in the heart muscle that is released into the bloodstream during a heart attack, with concerns about false positive results. high or low depending on the test.

“If you go to hospital with chest pain your troponin levels will be measured,” says Dr Oliver Guttmann, consultant cardiologist at Wellington Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK. Biotin can be used to control these levels, so a biotin supplement may affect the measurement. The concern is the falsely low/negative troponin level as heart attacks may be missed.’

Similarly, biotin is used to monitor the thyroid gland, so false readings can occur. Dr Guttman says falsely high and low readings have been detected, depending on the tests used.

The NHS says less than 0.9mg a day is unlikely to cause harm. But in the wild west of the supplement world, it’s easy to buy tablets containing up to 12 mg. While the packaging recommends consulting a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking medication or have a medical condition, we are so conditioned to see supplements as safe, how many do? Be sure to follow their advice.

Keep an eye on vitamin A

Touted as a wonder skin care ingredient, retinol boosts collagen production. But this April, the EU warned of overexposure and is implementing new legislation to limit retinol levels in products.

Experts warn that excessive use of retinol (applied as creams and serums) can irritate and thin the skin

Experts warn that excessive use of retinol (applied as creams and serums) can irritate and thin the skin

“The contribution of vitamin A from cosmetic products to overall consumer exposure, although low, may be of concern to consumers with the highest exposure to vitamin A (5 percent of the total population) from food and nutritional supplements,” the Scientific Commission said. for Consumer Safety.

“If you have too high a concentration in your system, it can damage the liver and cause thinning of the bones. I wouldn’t worry about skin irritation as much as the systemic effect,” says Dr Patterson, although he cautions that overuse of retinol can only irritate and thin the skin.

The UK RDA for women is 600mcg (men’s is 700mcg), while the NHS website advises not to exceed 1500mcg through food and supplements. The Mayo Clinic warns that more than 3,000 mcg per day on a long-term basis can cause the problems already noted, as well as joint and bone pain, headaches, nausea and diarrhea.

Vitamin A is often marketed as a beauty supplement that can be purchased cheaply and easily in very high doses. In fact, it is possible to take one, along with a general multivitamin (providing more than 100 percent of your daily needs), eat a portion of spinach and carrots, then use a cream. ​for topical use containing retinol – all adding up to 10,000 mcg. .

… and with lots of vitamin C

“The RDA for adults is 40 mg a day, but that’s the lowest level, to prevent things like scurvy,” says Bardwell. “There is a tendency to take very high doses of vitamin C for skin health and immunity. The upper limit is 2000 mg per day and even 1000 mg can cause stomach problems – nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal upset.

It is easy to consume these levels, especially in powder form. “High doses are unlikely to cause harm, but it can certainly cause discomfort when taken orally and is likely to be very expensive as an IV.”

Don’t mix and match

If you’re a fan of the TikTok trend of layering skin care products, be careful, as mixing ingredients can be harmful.

“Skin can only absorb so much and mixing products can be problematic,” says Dr Patterson. Retinol (or other forms of vitamin A) and vitamin C cream applied at the same time can cause irritation, as can vitamin C and AHAs, or retinol and salicylic acid, which can be very drying to the skin.

Dr Patterson advises not to use two products with the same actives and ‘stick to five foundations from the same range’.

Something is fishy…

Ideally, we should eat omega-3 in, for example, oily fish. Additionally, the supplements, which are said to help combat dry and irritated skin and improve hair and nail health, should be used with caution by those on blood thinners due to fears of an increased risk of bleeding. .

Omega-3 supplements should be used with caution by those taking blood thinners

Omega-3 supplements should be used with caution by those taking blood thinners

A very high dose of omega-3 can change the way it is used by the body, potentially creating warfarin [blood thinner] more powerful,” says Dr Guttman.

The British Heart Foundation recommends that if you take omega-3 supplements you should aim for around 450mg a day (and choose those containing omega-3 DHA and EPA). Fish oil is known to thin the blood; a study of 56 healthy adults taking 640 mg per day for one month had decreased clotting.

Dr Guttman says: ‘People react differently, but stay within recommended limits and tell your doctor about supplements.’

Other lesser known side effects from very high doses of fish oil can include heartburn and diarrhea.

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