The dietary supplement market is a multi-billion industry, filled with products for weight loss, muscle building, energy enhancement, and general well being. Some of these products may provide varying levels of benefit, but some carry risks.
Here are my top five concerns:
- Some supplements can be toxic at modestly high doses. The classic example is vitamins A, D, E, and K; but many products can cause side effects and health threats when using the “more is better” approach.
- Some supplements contain toxic heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic. Since these metals remain in our system for many years, even small doses can be harmful when consumed repeatedly. Furthermore, labels often do not disclose trace amounts.
- Beware of the calories. For instance, some protein drinks and bars contain a “healthy” amount of sugars and other carbohydrates.
- I’ve seen many patients who use over-the-counter remedies in lieu of proper medical treatment. Although I am not suggesting that you run to the doctor with every ache and pain, it is easy to underestimate the gravity of some symptoms.
- Many products can have interactions with prescribed medications. Always keep your physician informed of everything you are taking.