Are dietary supplements really a risk to your health?

The increasingly widespread and frequent consumption of food and nutritional supplements carries the importance of studying the complications, risks, disadvantages and contraindications of misuse.

If food supplements are taken properly, they will be an ideal aid for quality of life and health. On the other hand, if it is misused, it can cause irreparable damage.

Lack of information about its uses

Although it may seem surprising, the main drawback of nutritional supplements comes from the wrong information about them, aimed at attributing properties superior to those they really have. It should be borne in mind that nutritional supplements do not heal a disease, with the only exception of those caused by the lack of certain nutrients. For this reason, any use of supplements with the pretense of achieving properties that they lack, can have the negative side of not taking the appropriate measures to cure a disease.

Side effects of nutritional supplements

When a nutrient is conveniently provided by the diet, increasing its consumption, in the form of food supplements, does not provide any advantages and has little effect. In this way, some vitamins (the so-called water-soluble vitamins) are expelled through the urine when there is excess of them, without having any advisable or unfavorable effect.
However, the excesses of other substances such as fat-soluble vitamins, the excess of which is not easily suppressed, causing, sometimes extreme, damage to the kidneys and livers.
A peculiar case is that caused by vitamin A and its excessive function in pregnancy, which can cause malformations if the doses are exceeded, so its consumption should be recommended by specialists.

Studies on the consumption of nutritional supplements

People take dietary supplements to get essential nutrients at low levels in their diet. Food supplements can include minerals, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and herbs. Instead, they can present dangers. An investigation carried out by epidemiologists of the Food and Drug Administration published in the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” (“Journal of the American Dietetic Association”) in 2 thousand six indicates that more than 13% of adults in the USA who supplement their diet with food supplements suffer unfavorable effects.

suplementos nutricionales

A large number of people who experienced unfavorable reactions to dietary supplements, especially multiminerals and multivitamins, took over-the-counter prescriptions at the same time, unlike supplement users without adverse effects. Taking supplements that contain vitamin A and taking a drug that includes isotretinoin at the same time can increase the harmful effects of the medication. Vitamins C, E and K can be influenced by drugs dedicated to thinning the blood, such as warfarin, which is used to prevent blood clots. Herbal supplements can also interfere with drugs. Taking supplements containing St. John’s wort, which can help improve your mood when there is depression or sadness, can reduce the efficiency of chronic pain treatment, according to research by scientists from the Health Center’s Department of Anesthesiology University of Turku in Finland, published in the “European Journal of Pain” in 2 thousand and ten.

Large amounts of nutrients can cause kidney and liver damage , it can also cause serious toxic reactions. Taking mega doses of 1000mg of vitamin B6 can cause neuropathy, a condition that negatively affects restless cells, according to research conducted by the Wageningen Center for Food Sciences in the Netherlands and published in “Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Geneeskunde” in 2005.

Large amounts of fat-soluble vitamin can cause hypervitaminosis A , with side effects such as headache, dizziness, nausea, joint pain, dry skin, lack of appetite, etc.

When ingesting dietary supplements, contamination by harmful products can occur . Finally, we must mention that the supplements made with herbs are mostly contaminated by heavy metals such as lead, mercury or cadmium. In addition, about 40% of food supplements contain traces of pesticides.

Scientists have discovered many of the harmful effects of nutritional supplements. It is clear that consuming them can carry health risks that have not yet been studied. So before taking supplements on your own, try asking your doctor about your health and the idea of taking nutritional supplements.

And you, have you ever taken nutritional supplements? Have they been helpful or, on the contrary, have they caused you side effects?