Are Dietary Supplements Safe? Potential Side Effects Explained

When it comes to taking dietary supplements, it's important to be aware of the potential side effects. While these supplements can provide the body with the nutrients it needs, they can also interact with prescription medications and cause serious health risks. It's essential to understand how dietary supplements work and how to use them safely. As an expert in the field of nutrition, I can tell you that dietary supplements are products manufactured with the goal of providing the body with the nutrients it lacks.

However, these supplements can interfere with the prescription medications you're taking, potentially leading to chemical interactions that can be minor or dangerous. These interactions can weaken your medications and make them less effective, or make your prescriptions more powerful. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't even determine if dietary supplements are effective before sending them to market shelves. The FDA doesn't test the effectiveness of supplements (as it does with over-the-counter and prescription drugs) before they go to market.

However, if a dietary supplement contains certain new dietary ingredients, the manufacturer must submit data on the safety of that ingredient for review by the FDA before they can market it. Side effects of dietary supplements occur more often if people take high doses or use them instead of medications prescribed by their healthcare provider. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, can reduce the toxic effect of chemotherapy drugs (allowing patients to tolerate higher doses of chemotherapy). Proper use of supplements can help you avoid the side effects and toxicities associated with overuse. Your health professional may ask you to stop taking dietary supplements two to three weeks before a procedure to avoid potentially dangerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure, or the risk of bleeding. The FDA maintains a list of contaminated or potentially harmful products that are marketed as dietary supplements.

And remember: regardless of what the supplement manufacturer says, dietary supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or alleviate the effects of diseases. However, most people who have side effects, illnesses, or drug interactions from dietary supplements don't call the poison control center or supplement manufacturer. When taking dietary supplements, it's important to be aware of potential side effects and drug interactions. Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you have about taking dietary supplements and follow their advice. With proper use and understanding of how these products work, you can ensure that you're getting all the nutrients you need without putting your health at risk.

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