Although a label containing the words “all natural” may make a product seem perfectly safe, there are still health risks associated with many common health supplements.
Just like other medications, supplements can carry their own set of risks. The most commonly reported negative effects associated with supplements occur in the liver.
Since the liver is the organ responsible for breaking down most substances that enter the body, it is one of the first to be affected.
Supplements such as green tea extract, kava, slimming agents like conjugated linoleic acid, high doses of niacin, and too much vitamin A have been linked to liver damage.
When consuming any of the above-mentioned substances naturally, liver damage does not occur, but it is the high potency of supplements that poses a risk.
Although still uncommon, drug induced liver damage is on the rise. According to the researchers of a study published in the peer reviewed journal Nature ,“antimicrobialsand herbal supplements are among the most common therapeutic classes to cause idiosyncratic drug induced liver injury in the Western world.”
This all sounds a bit scary, but generally, following the label on the bottle and buying supplements from reputable manufacturers is enough to keep a person safe.
For those already suffering from liver disease or diseases associated with the liver, it’s best to consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your routine.
I say this because some supplements negatively interacting with medications, especially medications used to treat Hepatitis C. Another thing to be cautious of is overlapping ingredients.
Many supplements contain overlapping compounds so you may be unintentionally taking a higher dose of something than intended if you don’t read all labels thoroughly.
Supplements and Surgery
Beyond potential liver issues, those who are about to undergo surgery should also be wary of what supplements they are taking.
Of course, diet is one of the most important building blocks when recovering from surgery, and vitamin supplements can speed up recovery, but some things should be avoided before a surgery takes place.
The most important supplement to avoid pre-surgery is vitamin E. Vitamin E increases the production of red blood cells, which could mean a higher risk for bleeding during surgery.
Likewise vitamin E could slow down the immediate recovery process, when a localized blood clot must form to stop the bleeding and fight off infection.
Any of these things consumed, as part of a regular diet, is fine, it’s just when concentrated into supplements that they pose a risk.
This article is not intended to be a substitute for sound, medical advice. Everything mentioned is meant to show that supplements sometimes have unintended, unexpected, and often unmentioned side effects.
Describing every potential interaction is beyond the scope of this article, but if you are interested in adding a new supplement to your regimen, it pays off to do thorough research.
For more detailed information, please visit the NIH website dedicated to liver toxicity and vitamins.
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