The Dangers of Taking Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements may offer health benefits but they can also carry risks. Learn about potential side effects and how to reduce your risk.

The Dangers of Taking Dietary Supplements

When it comes to dietary supplements, many people are unaware of the potential risks associated with taking them. While some supplements may offer health benefits, they can also carry dangers, particularly for those being treated for cancer. It is essential to understand the safety and risk of dietary supplements before consuming them. Supplements are more likely to have side effects if taken in high doses or instead of prescription drugs, or if multiple supplements are taken at once.

Some supplements may increase the risk of bleeding or, if taken before surgery, can alter the response to anesthesia. Moreover, large doses of some vitamins or minerals can be hazardous and even damaging. For instance, too much vitamin A can reach toxic levels and damage organs, as well as interfere with certain medications. Unlike medications, dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Therefore, it is important to consider the health benefits and risks before taking a dietary supplement. If a supplement tests positive for an active ingredient, it is generally converted into a regulated drug and is better studied, with the dosage and risks clearly identified. Bodybuilding products often contain creatine, an amino acid that can build muscle but can also damage the kidneys. Many of these supplements also have high levels of caffeine, which can cause muscle breakdown, hyperactivity and agitation.

People often don't share the supplements they're taking with their healthcare provider, so the risks of taking supplements with other medications are largely unknown. It's possible to consume more nutrients than necessary through your diet, and taking more than you need increases your risk of side effects. For that reason, it is best to use medications rather than over-the-counter supplements to help achieve a health goal. The only supplement that is recommended by healthcare providers is vitamin D, since it is beneficial for bone health and carries low risks.

Drug companies and manufacturers of herbal supplements don't research potential drug interactions, so it's important to be aware of the risks associated with taking dietary supplements. You can help reduce your risk of cancer by making healthy choices such as eating well, staying active and not smoking. Additionally, vitamin K may reduce the effectiveness of anticoagulants while vitamin E may increase their potency and increase the risk of bleeding.