Updated: Nov 19, 2018
Today, most people consider dietary supplements as a safe way to become healthy. But not all supplements sold in the market are safe and effective. If you are not cautious, you can end up ingesting pills that can do more harm than good.
To help you, experts share five dangers of taking unreliable supplements, and three ways to protect yourself from their harmful effects.
The Dangers of Taking Unsafe Supplements
1. Some supplement manufacturers lie to attract customers.
Do not be enticed immediately by how manufacturers market their products, especially when it comes to weight loss supplements.
Some weight loss products were recalled because they have been proven to be deceptive.
Certain pills were advertised to help users permanently lose weight in just 40 days even without any diet modification. But after a while, the manufacturers revealed that significant weight loss could only happen if users adhered to a low-calorie diet.
Some manufacturers may even claim that their products are scientifically tested. But upon closer inspection, you will find out that the information is irrelevant, fabricated or even open to misinterpretation.
2. Vitamin overdose can lead to serious complications
Your body needs vitamins for your body systems to function well. But taking too much of a vitamin, such as A, D, E and K can lead to serious health problems.
Vitamin A overdose can result in liver failure or death, while vitamin D overdose can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, muscle problems, bone pain and unhealthy weight loss.
Aside from vitamins, there are minerals like iron and calcium that can also damage your organs when taken in huge amounts.
3. You can’t trust warning labels
Supplement manufacturers are mandated to put labels on all their products. But the
information available on the labels may not be sufficient.
For instance some products carry warnings for users against taking the product while pregnant or if they have medical conditions. Some also put possible side effects. However, they do not specify the health conditions or even the potential side effects they are referring to.
4. Vitamins and minerals can’t cure diseases
Vitamins and minerals are part of your preventative health support, meaning you should take them to prevent disease-causing microorganisms from attacking your body. These substances help your immune system fend off illnesses and ensure your organs perform their functions well.
But if you already have a disease, don’t believe in advertisements claiming that taking
supplements and other similar substances can treat your illness.
5. Botanicas may not meet industry standards
Botanicas are retail stores that offer healing artifacts and medicinal plants.
Buying herbal supplements from these stores is not advised because they don’t provide you with information regarding the product’s side effects and risks when you take lesser-known or unfamiliar herbs. Most probably, they will just ask about what problem you’re treating and, from there, they will provide you with different herbs and some intake instructions.
Oftentimes, these herbal products contain plants that have not yet been proven safe and effective when it comes to boosting one’s health. The supply chains used by these stores may also be questionable. Most importantly, how they obtain the ingredients and manufacture their products may not even meet industry standards.
How to Protect Yourself
1. Proper diet and exercise
If you want to lose weight, health experts advise you try diet and exercise, instead of taking weight loss supplements. Never trade a well-balanced meal and regular physical activity to a bunch of tablets or capsules.
You can also try weight training. If nothing works out, see your doctor because you may be suffering from a health condition like kidney disease, diabetes, hormonal problems or high blood pressure.
Don’t believe in everything supplement manufacturers say.
You should do your own research to ensure that the products you want to invest in are indeed safe and effective. For instance, products should have a quality assurance seal of some sort.
This seal indicates that legitimate products have been tested and proven to contain all the ingredients mentioned on the label, and that they do not have any contaminants like lead and bacteria.
Furthermore, they should have been verified by reliable third-party organizations.
3. Consult your doctor
Before taking any supplement, you have to check with your doctor first. In fact, health
professionals are your best partners in determining if you really need to take supplements in the first place. And if you do, they can help you search for the best supplements that suit your lifestyle and current health condition.
Always be cautious when it comes to your health. There are products out there that can harm you instead of boosting your health.
Be meticulous by performing your own research. Aside from checking out the company, make sure their products have been verified and tested by reputable organizations. Most importantly, consult with your physician about the idea of taking supplements before actually doing so.
Frank L. Jaksch Jr. is the Chief Executive Officer and a co-founder of ChromaDex. He oversees research, strategy and operations for the Company with a focus on scientific and novel products for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets. Mr. Jaksch earned a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from Valparaiso University.