Millions of people take supplements every day, but most don’t know what happens when they stop taking supplements and their effect on their health. 

Most people think that if they stop taking supplements, they will lose the progress they’ve made and have to start over. 

Many people who take supplements soon discover they no longer need or desire to use them. Is it, however, safe to discontinue taking supplements abruptly? Is a more gradual approach to quitting a better idea?

According to experts, “supplement withdrawal” adverse effects may be a serious thing to consider while quitting your supplement practice. These symptoms may include weariness, headaches, and intestinal problems.

Whether you want to change the sort of supplements you take or stop taking them entirely, there are some best practices to keep in mind.

Deciding what to do - whether to continue or stop taking supplements
Deciding what to do – whether to continue or stop taking supplements

What should you do if you decide to stop taking supplements

When it comes to dietary supplements, there are a few things you should keep in mind if you decide to stop taking them.

First, always consult with your doctor before stopping any supplement, as they may have specific instructions for discontinuing use.

Secondly, it’s important to taper off slowly when coming off of any supplement, as sudden withdrawal can lead to adverse effects.

Finally, remember that not all supplements are created equal – some may be more difficult to discontinue than others. So do your research before making the decision to stop taking any dietary supplement.

Effects of abruptly discontinuing supplements

What kinds of supplement withdrawal symptoms may you expect if you stop taking vitamins, minerals, adaptogens, or pre-workout formulas?

Side effects may occur depending on how you stop using them, how long you’ve been taking them, and your unique reaction.

  • Low energy, tiredness, and sluggishness
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Mood swings
  • Problems with sleep
  • Constipation and other digestive problems
  • Immune system deficiency

What supplements are the most likely to trigger withdrawal symptoms?

Because they frequently contain stimulants such as caffeine, usually in combination with other nutrients and herbs, “energy supplements” or “brain boosters” are more prone to induce negative effects when discontinued. When your body develops accustomed to the energy boost that these deliver, you may suffer a lag, brain fog, or mood swings when they are no longer there.

Supplements that you may want to contemplate discontinuing “cold turkey” include:

  • Sleep-inducing compositions using herbs like ashwagandha, valerian, or melatonin. If you stop taking them, you may experience restlessness or other sleep problems.
  • Herbs that improve moods, such as St. John’s Wort or 5HTP. If you discover that drugs assist raise your mood, discontinuing their use may result in mood changes.
Weaning yourself off supplements should be done slowly and methodically
Weaning yourself off supplements should be done slowly and methodically

To avoid feeling crappy, how should you stop taking supplements?

It’s important to taper off supplements gradually to give your body time to acclimatize. If you gradually reduce your dosage over several weeks, you are less likely to have withdrawal symptoms.

If you have any known deficiencies, such as vitamin D, iron, or vitamin B12, it’s a good idea to discuss supplementation plans with your doctor to avoid any health problems.

Trying out a new supplement? What to Consider

Are you more interested in trying a different sort of supplement than the one you’re currently taking? Then you’re less likely to suffer from side effects. Naturally, this varies from person to person.

Generally speaking, it’s preferable not to move from taking high dosages of one vitamin (such as zinc) immediately to taking high doses of another. Taking a multivitamin on a daily basis can help with this problem. Most supplements should also be started at a lesser dose and progressively increased as you assess your reaction.

Again, if you’re deficient in a specific nutrient, don’t drastically alter your supplement regimen. If you are not, and simply want to try something new, here are some suggestions:

Consider switching from a single B vitamin (such as B12) to a B complex product to meet broader dietary requirements.

If you take supplements to help your immune system, such as vitamin C, try zinc and probiotics instead (or all three) for similar results.

If you want to gain energy, consider adding iron to your diet if you don’t already (along with B12 if you eat a plant-based diet). Other potential energy supplements include ashwagandha and functional mushrooms like Lion’s Mane.

Supplements to avoid taking on a long-term basis

Some minerals and herbs are best taken for short periods of time rather than long periods of time. To avoid becoming overly reliant on these supplements, don’t use them long-term unless you’re working with a healthcare provider:

  • Laxatives (including “natural” kinds such as senna)
  • Stimulants like guarana
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Adaptogens such as Rhodiola or valerian (typically taken for 3 to 6 months before discontinuing for several months)
  • Kava
  • Calcium supplements
  • High doses of vitamin A
  • Isolates of soy/phytoestrogens
  • Black cohosh and chaste berry are two herbs that can influence hormone levels.

In conclusion

If you are supplementing correctly, your body will maintain the progress made while you were taking supplements even after you stop. In some cases, stopping supplementation may cause a small setback, but overall your body should continue making progress.

If you have any questions about what happens when you stop taking supplements or how to go about discontinuing them, consult with a healthcare professional.


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