When it comes to improving your health, you may be tempted to turn to supplements as a quick fix. After all, they’re widely available, relatively inexpensive, and boast a range of purported benefits.
But while supplements may offer some health benefits, they also come with potential risks. Here’s what you need to know about the potential risks of taking supplements.
1. Interactions with Medications
Some supplements can interact with certain medications, potentially leading to serious side effects. For example, St. John’s wort, a popular supplement for mild depression, can interact with certain antidepressants and birth control pills.
Before taking any supplement, it’s important to talk to your doctor about potential interactions with medications you’re taking.
Contamination is a major risk when it comes to supplements. Some supplements may be contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, or other toxins.
To reduce your risk of contamination, be sure to buy supplements from reputable manufacturers. Look for supplements that have been tested by a third-party organization, such as USP or NSF International.
3. Unclear Benefits
Some supplements may not offer any real health benefits. Many supplements, such as multivitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, are widely marketed as being beneficial for health, but the evidence to support these claims is often weak.
Before taking any supplement, it’s important to do your research and talk to your doctor about its potential benefits.
4. Unregulated Industry
Unlike medications, supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that manufacturers don’t have to prove that their products are safe or effective.
To reduce your risk of taking an ineffective or potentially dangerous supplement, look for products that have been tested by a third-party organization.
The Bottom Line
Supplements can offer some health benefits, but they also come with potential risks. Before taking any supplement, it’s important to talk to your doctor about potential interactions with medications you’re taking and do your research to make sure the product is safe and effective.