Supplements: What You Should Know

Do you take dietary supplements? A 2009 survey of nurses and doctors revealed that 89% of nurses and 72% of physicians take dietary supplements themselves.

Here’s why you should use caution when taking supplements:

  • Just because a supplement is over-the-counter, that doesn’t mean it’s safe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not routinely oversee the manufacture of supplements, and cannot guarantee their safety and effectiveness.
  • Dietary and herbal supplements are not risk-free. Supplements can have strong adverse effects in the body. Supplements can also interact with prescription medicines, leading to potentially dangerous reactions.
  • “All natural” on the bottle is no guarantee. In recent years, the FDA has discovered harmful contaminants in some supplements.

If you’re currently taking or considering taking dietary supplements, keep a few key points in mind:

  • Talk to your doctor. 77% of supplements are used without advice from a healthcare provider. Openly discuss with your doctor if you’re taking a supplement and if you experience any problems with it.
  • Look at the big picture. Some groups may be more at risk for adverse effects with supplements. These include teenagers, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the elderly, people who take multiple medications, and those planning to undergo surgery.
  • Look at your lifestyle. Why are you considering taking a supplement? Could you achieve the same results by getting more sleep, starting to exercise or eating a healthy diet?

– Tejal Chande, Pharm.D

Bookmark and Share