The Potential Dangers of Taking Dietary Supplements

Taking dietary supplements can be beneficial for your health, but it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with them. Skin rashes, shortness of breath, diarrhea, severe joint or muscle pain, difficulty speaking, and blood in the urine are all possible adverse events that can result from taking supplements. Manufacturers can add vitamins, minerals and other supplement ingredients to the foods you eat, such as breakfast cereals and beverages. This means that you may be consuming more of these ingredients than you think, and more may not be better.

Taking more than you need costs more and may also increase the risk of side effects. For example, too much vitamin A can cause headaches and liver damage, reduce bone strength, and cause birth defects. Too much iron causes nausea and vomiting and can damage the liver and other organs.

Gold has seen first-hand the harmful effects of bodybuilding supplements

, many of which contain creatine, an amino acid that can build muscle but can also damage the kidneys.

He also found that many of these supplements have high levels of caffeine, which can cause muscle breakdown, hyperactivity and agitation. A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that nearly 23,000 people visit the Emergency Department (ED) each year due to dietary supplements. Many of these trips to the emergency room involve heart problems caused by weight-loss products and stimulants. A key issue is that many over-the-counter dietary supplements aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so there's often no way to know if a supplement is safe or if it will cause adverse side effects. Donald Hensrud, an expert in nutrition and preventive medicine, states: “The evidence supporting the beneficial health effects of most dietary supplements is not very strong and there are possible adverse effects”.

One of the reasons people take dietary supplements is to improve their overall health. However, the evidence supporting a healthy and balanced diet is much stronger than that of any dietary supplement. Some supplements may increase the risk of bleeding or, if taken before surgery, may change the response to anesthesia. A single adverse event report can help us identify a potentially dangerous product and possibly recall it from the market.

For a list of possible serious reactions to watch out for and to learn how to report an adverse event, see the FDA website entitled How to Report a Problem with Dietary Supplements. The FDA maintains a list of contaminated or potentially harmful products that are marketed as dietary supplements. That's probably the only supplement that I would recommend my patients to take, since it's good for bone health and the associated risks are quite low. Many are safe and offer significant health benefits, but there are some that pose health risks, especially if overused.

For example, high doses of vitamin B3 (niacin) can help increase good cholesterol from high-density lipoproteins (HDL), while folic acid has long been used to reduce the risk of a birth defect called spina bifida. It is important for individuals to be aware of potential risks associated with taking dietary supplements before they decide to take them. It is also important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplement in order to ensure safety. Additionally, individuals should always read labels carefully and follow dosage instructions closely in order to avoid any potential risks.

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