What you need to know about dietary supplements.

The term “dietary supplement” encompasses a vast variety of products, such as vitamins and minerals, herbs and other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and some others. Dietary supplements are available in various forms, including pills, gummies, powders, liquids, teas, and bars.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. However, nutritional supplements are more comparable to special foods.

As long as the manufacturer does not claim the supplement may treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure a disease, dietary supplements can generally be sold without proof of safety and efficacy. In addition, dietary supplements cannot contain anything that poses a known risk of illness or harm when used according to the instructions on the label, or with typical use if there are no instructions.

Some manufacturers do not adhere to FDA regulations regarding supplement labeling and claims. In several instances, when herbal supplements were analyzed, it was discovered that they contained either a negligible amount or none of the listed substances. Some even contain substances that could be dangerous to certain consumers. Furthermore, some dietary supplements contain a higher dose than the label indicates. These types of issues have caused severe illnesses and even fatalities.

Some medical research suggests that dietary supplements can be advantageous. Because these products contain active substances – molecules that interact with our body’s receptors and trigger physiological changes. However, since they contain active chemicals, they may also induce undesirable side effects, such as high blood pressure, a rapid or irregular pulse, headache, vertigo, and digestive symptoms.

Are you most likely to have side effect from dietary supplements?

If you take them in large doses or in place of prescribed medications, or if you take many different nutrients because you believe it must be better, you may experience adverse effects.

Here are several instances in which dietary supplements may create health issues.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D improves calcium absorption and offers the potential for bone protection. Our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight with naked skin. However, large doses are not recommended, as they might stimulate calcium absorption and cause muscle pain, mood instabilities, gastrointestinal pain, and kidney stones. Likewise, it may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

St.John’s wort

St. John’s wort is a plant used as a tea or in pill form, with reported benefits for depression, menopausal symptoms, insomnia, wound healing, and other conditions. The most significant difficulty with St. John’s wort is its drug interactions. For example, combining St. John’s wort with an antidepressant can result in severe side effects. It may also affect the efficacy of other medications, such as contraceptives, chemotherapy, HIV or AIDS medications, and medicines used to prevent organ rejection after a transplant.


Calcium is necessary for a healthy skeleton, but excessive amounts of this mineral can be hazardous. Risks associated with calcium supplementation include arterial hardening or atherosclerosis, and an increased risk of heart disease. According to research, those who obtained calcium from food had a lower risk of atherosclerosis.

Multivitamins and multiminerals

Multiple studies have demonstrated the value of multivitamins. A study indicated, for instance, that frequent usage of multivitamin and mineral supplements helped avoid micronutrient deficiencies that could otherwise lead to health concerns. Overall, the studies regarding whether multivitamins genuinely benefit health are contradictory. Even though multivitamins pose a low risk for drug interactions, smokers and former smokers should avoid taking multivitamins containing high doses of vitamin A or beta-carotene, as these nutrients may raise the risk of lung cancer when taken as a supplement.

Fish oil

Fish oil is derived from various types of fish. It contains an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. The body does not create a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids, therefore these supplements can relieve pain and inflammation and prevent blood clots. More than 3 grams of fish oil per day may raise the risk of bleeding. Fish oil can cause heartburn, loose stools, and nosebleeds as adverse effects.


Kava is an herb that has been used in concentrated forms to treat generalized anxiety disorder. However, excessive or prolonged kava consumption has been linked to severe liver damage, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure. Additionally, excessive kava consumption has also been linked to cardiac issues and eye irritation.

Soy isolate

Some women also take soy supplements because the plant contains isoflavones, which are estrogen-like chemicals that alleviate menopausal symptoms. Some health professionals are concerned that isoflavones may increase the risk of breast cancer.

Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid is known as vitamin C. Among its many key functions are cell protection, the maintenance of healthy skin, blood vessels, bones, and cartilages, and wound healing. However, excessive vitamin C can also induce nausea, abdominal cramps, headaches, tiredness, and kidney stones. In addition to these negative effects, excessive vitamin C consumption can also interfere with medical testing, such as the diabetes test, by producing incorrect results.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, thus controlling excessive bleeding. Vitamin K can inhibit the ability of the blood thinner warfarin to prevent blood clots if taken in excessive quantities. In addition, vitamin K is fat-soluble, like vitamins A, D, and E, which implies that overstorage might be toxic.

Folic acid

Folate or folic acid are forms of vitamin B9 used to treat deficiency and prevent problems during pregnancy. Folic acid is also used to treat numerous other illnesses, including depression, stroke, memory and cognitive decline, and many others. But, high folate consumption can disguise vitamin B12 deficiency.

Manufacturers may add vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional ingredients to the food you consume, particularly breakfast cereals and beverages. Therefore, you may receive more of these nutrients than you expect, and more may not be better. Taking more than necessary may increase costs and the likelihood of adverse effects.

In the case of an overdose, these are examples of herbal or supplemental products that regularly bring patients to the emergency department.

  • Weight loss
  • Sleep
  • Heart health
  • Immunity or infection
  • Detoxification
  • Energy
  • Sexual enhancement
  • Laxative
  • Pain or arthritis relief
  • Bodybuilding

Natural is not always safer and better.

It is a general aspect that natural substances are safer or superior to artificial ones. However, certain natural products might be dangerous even when used as directed.

Botanical supplements are derived from plant material, whereas plants are composed of several chemicals. Even various plant sections can contain distinct chemicals. Some of these may be beneficial, while others may be toxic or cause allergic reactions in people. Botanicals that have not been processed to remove possibly harmful compounds may not be helpful for health. Furthermore, natural products can be grown under various conditions, which may potentially change the concentrations of certain elements. This can make it more difficult to regulate the exact components of the final product.

Since the long-term use of some high-dose supplements might result in toxicity, the most important thing to keep in mind while selecting a supplement is to be careful. Therefore, if you believe you may be deficient in some vitamins and minerals, it may be preferable to make dietary and lifestyle changes instead of taking supplements. If you need assistance, you should first consult with your healthcare professional, as the efficacy and safety of a supplement may depend on your individual conditions and health.

If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food. – Errick McAdams