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Which Natural Health Supplements to Boost Your Energy Do Doctors Say to Avoid?

Image: Which Natural Health Supplements to Boost Your Energy Do Doctors Say to Avoid?
Blackboard with the chemical formula of coenzyme Q10. (Zerbor/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Friday, 20 Mar 2015 11:09 AM

Natural health supplements and other products claiming to increase energy levels are popular with ingredients ranging from the standard caffeine to kola nut to the coenzyme Q10.

Andrew Shao, PhD, from the Council for Responsible Nutrition tells WebMD, "Energy (supplements have) become one of the fastest-growing categories of supplement. And that's because everybody — whether you're a man or a woman, young or old — wants more energy."

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But that search for energy is not without concerns from a medical standpoint. Here are six natural health supplements on the market that doctors advise using with caution:

1. Cola nut: This seed of the cola nut plant contains caffeine. If it's ingested in foods or taken in medicinal amounts for a short period of time, it's ranked as possibly safe. However, WebMD reports that if taken in larger amounts or over a long period of time, the cola nut raises concerns about mouth cancer and gastrointestinal cancer. In the extreme, very high doses of caffeine can cause death and a fatal dose is estimated to be about 10 to 14 grams.

2. Yerba mate: Usually taken as a tea, this plant also contains caffeine. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Yerba mate isn't likely to pose a risk for healthy adults who occasionally drink it. However, some studies indicate that people who drink large amounts of yerba mate over prolonged periods may be at increased risk of some types of cancer, such as cancer of the mouth, esophagus and lungs. Smoking in combination with yerba mate seems to greatly increase the cancer risk."

3. Guarana: This natural supplement comes from the dried paste of a shrub found in Brazil and other Amazon areas. It contains caffeine, so it raises some of the issues cited above similar to the cola nut. Guarana may also interact with some medications, consult your physician prior to taking it. It also contains a high level of tannin, which has been associated with cancer of the oropharynx.

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4. Bitter Orange: This supplement, taken from the rid of a citrus species, is popularly promoted as an energy supplement, and it's one that doesn't have caffeine. "Though it hasn't been studied much, some experts are concerned about potential risks. Its active ingredient — synephrine — is chemically similar to ephedrine, the active ingredient in ephedra, which was pulled off the market in 2004 because of its life-threatening health risks," according to WebMD. "Some preliminary reports have documentation concerning heart and vascular effects with the use of bitter orange."

5. Creatine: Made from amino acids, creatine is something our bodies get from food and also make naturally. WebMD reports that one of the concerns about taking creatine is dehydration, and doctors recommend that anyone taking it also drink a lot of water. Other possible issues are kidney disease and kidney failure, nausea, diarrhea, camping and muscle pain. Another issue is that it often is included in energy boosting mixes, along with other products like guarana is those mixes can cause "dangerous cardiovascular side effects," reports WebMD.

6. Coenzyme Q10: Promoted for energy boosting, COQ10 has been studied for possible treatment of numerous other conditions. The Mayo Clinic reports, "Promising uses of CoQ10 include eye disease, chest pain caused by exercise, asthma, chronic fatigue, and high cholesterol, as well as the treatment of chemotherapy side effects in children." Although considered generally safe when taken in normal dosages for eight months or so, caution should be taken when ingesting COQ10 for long periods of time, or in people with certain health conditions, like stomach disorders or migraines.

This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.

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Natural health supplements and other products claiming to increase energy levels are popular with ingredients ranging from the standard caffeine to kola nut to the coenzyme Q10.
Natural Health Supplements, Energy, Boost
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2015-09-20
Friday, 20 Mar 2015 11:09 AM
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