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Precautions of Dietary Supplements

Before taking dietary supplements, you should first educate yourself about the precautions of dietary supplements.

Dietary supplements and the law

The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA) refers to minerals, vitamins, herbs, and other similar nutritional substances as dietary supplements; these may take the form of tablets, capsules, powders, and liquids. Dietary supplements can also include amino acids, proteins, extracts from animal glands, fish oils, and fibers. They can also include compounds that are not classified as food, such as enzymes, bioflavonoids, germanium, rutin, nucleic acids, and a mixture of all the mentioned ingredients.

According to a study made by the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau, six in ten Americans–about 59 percent–report to taking dietary supplements on a regular basis. The general view is that precautions of dietary supplements are unnecessary because supplements are generally safe. They can be bought without a prescription and are not classified as medical drugs.

1. Vitamin and mineral supplements

Vitamins and mineral supplements are generally safe and pose no safety concerns or alarming side effects when offered at moderate potencies. There are a lot of acknowledged scientific studies regarding the interactions with, and benefits of, vitamins and minerals to the body. However, like all natural substances, nutrients, too much of these may be harmful for the body–precautions of dietary supplements for vitamins and mineral;s should still be taken. Excessive potency may cause adverse side effects and can be toxic, while other supplements may contain contaminants. For example, some calcium supplements were found to contain lead, and high intake of this can be very toxic for the body. Generally, precautions of dietary supplements for vitamins and minerals include taking supplements that are based on the Recommended Dietary Allowances. Some known risks for high vitamin intake include child poisoning from high intakes of iron; liver damage from high intakes of niacin; tissue damage from high intakes of selenium; bone damage, liver damage, diarrhea, and birth defects from high intakes of Vitamin A; nerve disorder, bone pain, numbness, and muscle weakness from high intakes of Vitamin B6; urinary tract problems and diarrhea from high intakes of Vitamin C, and kidney damage and bone deformity from continuous high intakes of vitamin D.

2. Herbs and other botanicals

Many of the medicinal claims for herbs and other botanicals supplements have not yet been fully studied or research to substantiate effectiveness and safety. Precautions of dietary supplements in the form of herbs and botanicals should be taken especially when under medication, experiencing a serious condition, when pregnant, and when under the age of 12. Little is known about some of the ingredients contained in these supplements and they are largely unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration Board. Some of the herbal supplements have showed serious side effects that have caused the FDA to recall products that contain the said ingredients. Some of these ingredients include: chapparal, which are related to toxic hepatitis; comfrey, which may cause liver cirrhosis in long term use; germanium, which may cause liver damage; guar gum, which may cause intestinal blockages; ma huang, which may cause rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, muscle injury, nerve damage, stroke, psychosis, and memory loss; and yohimbe, which may cause seizures, kidney failure, and death.

IMPORTANT: Precautions of dietary supplements should be taken because supplements are not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration Board. To make sure that you are buying a product that is free from contaminants, go with a manufacturer that is GMP-compliant.

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