Is taking dietary supplements safe?

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Nutritional supplements can be beneficial to your health and wellness, but supplement use can also pose risks to your health and wellness. While certain dietary supplements are well understood and established, others require additional research. Consult with your physician before deciding whether or not to take a dietary supplement.

What are the advantages of nutritional supplements?

For a person who is generally healthy and consumes a wide variety of meals, supplements are not cost-effective. Herbal dietary supplements are not intended to replace food because they do not include all the nutrients and advantages of whole foods, such as the fiber and phytochemicals found in vegetables and fruits. However, for people with certain health and wellness issues, consuming a variety of meals to meet nutritional needs is not always feasible. Consult your physician before using dietary supplements to determine the safe dosage based on your individual needs.

When your healthcare professional recommends supplements to address specific needs, they can be useful for your health. Folic acid, which is taken by women of childbearing age to reduce the incidence of birth defects, and iron, which is used to treat anemia, have been found to be beneficial for specific populations.

Are there any dangers associated with supplement use?

Yes. Numerous dietary supplements contain active ingredients with potent organic effects on the body. This may make them dangerous in some circumstances and could impair or complicate your health. The following actions may have harmful and even dangerous consequences:

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The supplement industry has a lengthy history of unsanitary products. Do you recall the term “ephedra” from the 1990s? This energizer was banned in 2004 as a result of its association with organ damage and death. Methylsynephrine, a recently banned chemical, has been discovered in supplements that did not list it on the label. It is not permitted for use as a dietary supplement or prescription medication in the United States. According to recent research, fourteen out of twenty-seven brands of dietary supplements contained the prohibited substance in a variety of quantities. If customers took the suggested dose listed on the label, they might encounter side effects such as nausea, irritability, or a heart attack. In addition to methylsynephrine, supplements may contain additional unlisted ingredients.

Including dietary supplements:

  • Combining vitamins with drugs (whether prescription or over-the-counter).
  • Substituting dietary supplements for prescription drugs
  • Taking excessive amounts of some supplements, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, or iron.
  • Some supplements can also have adverse effects before, during, and after surgical procedures. Inform your healthcare physician, as well as your pharmacist, about any dietary supplements you are taking.

Unlike pharmaceuticals, supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent disease. This means that dietary supplements cannot make claims such as “relieves pain” or “treats heart disease.” Such claims are only appropriate for pharmaceuticals, not nutritional supplements.

Who is accountable for the safety of dietary supplements?

Manufacturers and distributors of nutritional supplements are responsible for ensuring the safety of their products prior to distribution. The FDA is not allowed to check dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they go on the market.

If the dietary supplement has a brand-new substance, the manufacturer must notify the FDA before marketing the product. However, the warning will only be evaluated by the FDA (it will not be accepted) and only for safety, not performance.

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Suppliers must manufacture nutritional supplements in accordance with current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) and labeling standards, as well as ensure that they are free of impurities and contaminants and clearly labeled.

If a major problem happens with a nutritional supplement, manufacturers must report it to the FDA as an adverse event. The FDA has the authority to remove dietary supplements from the market if they are found to be unsafe or if the product’s claims are false and also deceptive.

How can I be an intelligent supplement consumer?

Nutritional supplements can be beneficial to health, but supplement use can also pose risks to health and wellness. Before you decide whether or not to take a dietary supplement, talk to your doctor.

Numerous dietary supplements contain active substances with substantial biological effects on the body. Such arguments are only legitimate for pharmaceuticals, not dietary supplements.

According to the current investigation, the illegal substance was found in different amounts in fourteen of the twenty-seven brands of dietary supplements.

If your doctor or health care provider tells you to start taking a supplement, do the following:

  • Use legitimate, noncommercial websites (e.g., NIH, FDA, and USDA) when searching for supplements online, as opposed to conducting blind searches.
  • Keep a lookout for deceptive claims such as “works better than,” “completely safe,” and “no side effects.”
  • Understand that the term “natural” does not always imply safety.
  • Ask your healthcare professional for guidance in distinguishing between reliable and questionable information.
  • Be careful and look for independent quality assessment seals and third-party verification to make sure you are safe.
  • Always keep in mind that safety comes first!


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Miriam Josey
Miriam Josey is an RD and expert in healthy diets and sustainable lifestyles. She has a B.S from Cal State (Nutritional Science) and an M.S. from the University of Southern California (Nutrition, Healthspan, and Longevity). Miriam’s professional chef certificate allows her to develop rich, non-restrictive diets for weight loss.

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