Supplements: Adding to the problem?

| Updated on January 17, 2018


Dietary supplements can be beneficial to your health, but taking them can also involve health risks, says the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adding that it does not have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed

While some dietary supplements are well understood and established, others need further study.

So before making decisions about whether to take a supplement, talk to your healthcare provider.

Dietary supplements include such ingredients as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and enzymes. They are marketed as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, powders, and liquids.

Some supplements can help you get enough of vital substances the body needs to function; others may help reduce the risk of disease.

But supplements should not replace a healthy diet. So, be sure you eat a variety of foods as well.

Unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases. That means supplements should not make claims such as “reduces pain” or “treats heart disease.” Such claims can only legitimately be made for drugs, not dietary supplements.

And yes, there are risks to taking supplements.

Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects on the body. This could make them unsafe in some situations and hurt or complicate your health.

For example, the following actions could lead to harmful – even life-threatening – consequences: combining supplements, using supplements with medicines (whether prescribed or over-the-counter), substituting supplements for prescription medicines, and taking too much of some supplements, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, or iron.

Some supplements can also have unwanted effects before, during, and after surgery.

So, be sure to inform your healthcare provider, including pharmacist, about the supplements you are taking.

Source: USFDA

Published on August 05, 2016

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