(HealthyResearch.com) – Many of us have one or more sitting in our medicine cabinets right now, and those of us who do have them tend to use them regularly. According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center, we spend over $12 billion on these products each year.
Vitamins and supplements are a great way to fill in nutritional gaps — in theory. Taking any non-FDA-approved, over-the-counter pill for any reason is also a good way to make a perfectly healthy person sick. Here are seven health risks every consumer should know about.
1. Overdose Is Possible
Too much of even a good thing can wind up becoming dangerous, especially when it comes to supplements. Consumer Reports warns that overdoses on even vitamins and minerals can be serious. In some cases, we might not realize we’re getting nutrients from so many sources, and some of them can add up quickly. Depending on the type of vitamin, according to Healthline, overdosing can lead to illness, organ damage and even death.
2. Most Don’t Use Child-Resistant Packaging
Child-resistant packaging is a requirement for prescription drugs and their OTC counterparts, but only a handful of supplements are under this same restriction. Unless they contain iron, vitamin and mineral supplements don’t need any special packaging. Herbal supplements and enhancement products are typically in plain bottles with regular screw-on lids. About 4,600 children go to the hospital each year due to accidental ingestion.
3. They May Cause Drug Interactions
Supplements can interact in dangerous ways with medications and other supplements. The FDA warns that numerous unexpected combinations — for example, using St. John’s Wort alongside heart disease medications or taking ginkgo biloba with blood thinners — can have deadly consequences. Be aware of all potential interactions for every bottle in that medicine cabinet, no matter how harmless it may appear. Used carelessly, even herbs and vitamins can kill.
4. Some Contain Prescription Drugs
According to Consumer Reports, many supplements have been recalled after the FDA has caught on to their “miraculous” claims and found them to contain actual prescription drugs. Some people might try the products, believing them to be safer alternatives, only to suffer severe health events due to the drugs’ effects.
“Herbal formulations” for weight loss and improved sexual performance have been common culprits. These products have sent people to the emergency room with blood clots, strokes and organ damage. Some supplement users have even died.
5. Supplements Aren’t FDA Approved
The FDA can investigate supplements and pull them if it finds they’re dangerous or making misleading claims, but it doesn’t approve them before distribution. As a result, supplements can circulate long enough to harm or even kill groups of people before they’re pulled from the market.
Some products can make tempting claims. Who doesn’t want a quick fix toward that perfect body? Is it really worth being a human guinea pig and playing Russian roulette with unapproved substances?
6. Large Pills Can Present Choking Hazards
A staggering 37.6% of emergency room visits related to supplement use in people over 65 literally involve choking. Seriously, some of those pills are huge, especially the multivitamins, which cause 83.1% of these types of emergencies. People who have a hard time swallowing large pills might consider seeking out alternatives; they may even consider whether they really need the supplements at all.
7. Most Supplements Are a Waste of Money
Many of us could stand to save a lot of money if we realized how many of the supplements we take aren’t doing a thing for us. Most have no proven health benefits, and even the majority of vitamins we take are wholly unnecessary.
Beyond the folic acid found in prenatal supplements for pregnant women, there’s usually no need to take extra vitamins. The exception to this is when a doctor prescribes a supplement if a patient has low levels of a certain vitamin or nutrient, such as low vitamin D or potassium levels. For most people, however, a balanced diet is enough to give most people all they need to stay healthy.
Most of us do what we can to meet our bodies halfway and stay at our best, but we can get caught up in some unnecessary steps in the process. In some cases, they can even be harmful. How many healthy young people have died because they didn’t think they were thin enough or good enough in bed? How many seniors have choked to death on multivitamins their bodies didn’t need? The risks are real, so always consult with a doctor before starting any type of supplement or over-the-counter remedy.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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