The Risks of Taking Supplements: What You Need to Know

Taking supplements can be beneficial for your health, but it is important to be aware of the risks associated with taking them. Taking more than you need can be costly and can increase the risk of side effects. For example, too much vitamin A can cause headaches, liver damage, reduced bone strength, and birth defects. Excess iron can cause nausea and vomiting and can damage the liver and other organs.

Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects on the body, which could make them unsafe in some situations and damage or complicate their health. For one thing, dietary supplements can sometimes interact with each other, as well as over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs. In addition, unlike drugs, the U. S.

Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is not authorized to review the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements prior to marketing. It is up to manufacturers to ensure that their products contain no contaminants or impurities, are properly labeled, and contain what they claim. In other words, the regulation of dietary supplements is much less stringent than for prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the body and consuming enough is essential for health and well-being, offering the promise of protecting bones and preventing bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Vitamin D supplements are popular because it's difficult (if not impossible) to get enough from food.

In addition, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our bodies produce vitamin D when bare skin is exposed to sunlight, but increased indoor time and widespread use of sunscreen have minimized the amount of vitamin D that many of us get from exposure to the sun. However, says Dr. Denise Millstine, internist in the integrative medicine department at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona: “The biggest problem with St. John's wort is its drug interactions. Taking St.

John's wort may also reduce the effectiveness of other medications, such as birth control pills, chemotherapy drugs for HIV or AIDS, and medications to prevent organ rejection after a transplant.”It's important to read about possible drug interactions and talk to your doctor before taking St. John's wort or any other supplement. Calcium is essential for strong bones and a healthy heart, but too much is not good. In fact, an excess of calcium—which the NIH describes as more than 2500 mg per day for adults ages 19 to 50, and more than 2000 mg per day for people 51 and older—can cause problems. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Researchers believe that without an adequate amount of vitamin D to help absorb it, extra calcium is deposited in arteries rather than bones.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 1000 mg of calcium a day for women ages 19 to 50 and 1200 mg a day for women 51 and older.

The recommendation for men 19 to 70 years of age is 1000 mg per day, and 1200 mg per day for men 71 years and older. For example, 6 ounces of low-fat plain yogurt contains approximately 311 mg of calcium—just under a third of daily recommendations. Other good sources of calcium include tofu, skim milk, cheese, fortified cereals, and juices. Calcium deficiency—or hypocalcemia—can be detected by routine blood tests. If you have low levels of calcium in your blood, your doctor may prescribe a calcium supplement. Do you think that a healthy lifestyle requires not only eating foods that are good for you, exercising and getting enough sleep but also taking a daily multivitamin and multimineral supplement? You might be surprised to learn that the jury still doesn't know if those supplements are really useful. A surprising study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine which examined data from nearly 40,000 women over the age of 19 found that on average women who took supplements had a higher risk of dying compared to women who did not take supplements.

Multivitamins also did little or nothing to protect against common cancers cardiovascular disease or death. For women of childbearing potential the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid to help prevent birth defects. Your doctor may also prescribe multivitamins if you have malabsorption syndrome a condition in which your body doesn't properly absorb vitamins and minerals. But for healthy people Manson says “a supplement can never replace a healthy diet” Tofu tempeh and soy milk are good sources of protein fiber and several minerals.

Some women also take soy as a supplement because the plant contains estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones that can help relieve menopausal symptoms. However concerns have been raised that isoflavones in soy supplements may contribute to increasing the risk of breast cancer. The good news is that large-scale studies have not shown an increased risk of breast cancer from eating whole soy foods such as tofu and edamame according to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. But not enough research has been done on soy protein isolate (SPI) the powder that forms when protein is removed from the rest of the plant to know its effect on breast cancer risk Millstine says.

In addition to supplements SPI is often found in energy bars veggie burgers and some soups sauces smoothies and breakfast cereals. Young adults weren't the only ones affected many children under 4 years old experienced allergic reactions or digestive symptoms (nausea vomiting abdominal pain) from accidental ingestion of vitamins without supervision. Patients over 65 years old should also be careful when taking supplements as they may interact with other medications they are taking.

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