You're more likely to have side effects from dietary supplements if you take them in high doses or instead of prescription drugs, or if you take many different supplements. Some supplements may increase the risk of bleeding or, if taken before surgery, may change the response to anesthesia. While vitamins and nutritional or dietary supplements can be beneficial to health, they can also pose health risks. In particular, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the authority to review the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before they are marketed.
Plus, because there are more than 90,000 different supplements on the market, it can be confusing to know what's safe and what's not. Walk down the vitamin and mineral aisle at your local drugstore. You'll see rows of capsules, liquids, and powders listed as dietary supplements. Their labels claim that they can help improve your health and well-being.
But are dietary supplements necessary for your health? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements. However, it does not regulate them as drugs that can be used to treat or cure a disease. They are regulated as food, but not as conventional food.
By law, supplement manufacturers cannot claim that their products treat or cure a disease or health condition. Only an FDA-approved drug can make such a claim. Hausig warns that you shouldn't take more supplements than you need because of the risk of side effects. According to the FDA, taking too much vitamin A, for example, can cause headaches and liver damage, reduce bone strength, and cause birth defects.
Talk to your healthcare team before taking large doses of any vitamin, mineral, or other supplement. This site includes fact sheets and videos on dietary supplements for the public, educators, and health professionals. The side effects of dietary supplements occur more often if people take high doses or use them instead of medications prescribed by their healthcare provider. The San Diego Health Magazine features health tips and stories about innovative care and celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.
If you're lacking a particular nutrient, ask your doctor if you need to go beyond your diet to make up for what you're lacking, but you shouldn't take more than your recommended daily intake of that nutrient, unless your healthcare provider recommends it.