Are Supplements Unhealthy? A Comprehensive Guide to Risks and Benefits

This article explores the potential risks & benefits of taking dietary supplements & provides advice on which supplements may be right for you.

Are Supplements Unhealthy? A Comprehensive Guide to Risks and Benefits

For many people, dietary supplements are an integral part of their daily routine. But are they really necessary? And, more importantly, are they safe? In this article, we'll explore the potential risks and benefits of taking dietary supplements, as well as the best sources of vitamins and minerals. When it comes to dietary supplements, it's important to understand that they are not regulated in the same way as prescription or over-the-counter drugs. The U.

S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not review the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before they are marketed. It is up to manufacturers to ensure that their products do not contain contaminants or impurities, are properly labeled and contain what they claim. In addition, dietary supplements can sometimes interact with each other, as well as with OTC and prescription drugs. This is why it's essential to consult with your healthcare team before adding any new supplement to your regimen. So, what supplements should you be taking? Here are seven popular supplements that have been linked to potential health benefits, as well as some potential risks to consider.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium in the body and is critical for bone health and preventing bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult (if not impossible for some) to get enough vitamin D from food alone. This is why vitamin D supplements are so popular. Our bodies produce vitamin D when bare skin is exposed to direct sunlight, but the increase in time spent indoors and the widespread use of sunscreen have minimized the amount of vitamin D that many of us get from exposure to the sun. The American Geriatrics Society recommends that people over 65 supplement their diet with at least 1000 IU of vitamin D per day in order to reduce the risk of fractures and falls. However, it's important to note that high doses of vitamin D can cause additional calcium absorption and lead to muscle pain, mood disorders, abdominal pain and kidney stones. It can also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Vitamin D supplements may benefit certain people, including those at risk of a deficiency, such as people with darker skin, certain health conditions and older adults.

It's also important to note that vitamin D supplements can interact with other medications, so it's important to talk to your doctor before taking them.

St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort is a plant that is used as tea or in capsules and has been linked to potential benefits for depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), menopausal symptoms, insomnia, kidney and lung problems, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), wound healing and more. A review of short-term studies analyzed 27 clinical trials with about 3800 patients and suggested that St. John's Wort worked as well as certain antidepressants in reducing the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

However, St. John's Wort can interact with other medications and reduce their effectiveness.


Calcium is essential for a strong skeleton but too much can be harmful. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 1,000 mg of calcium a day for women ages 19 to 50 and 1,200 mg a day for women age 51 and older. For men ages 19 to 70 the recommendation is 1,000 mg a day and 1,200 mg a day for men age 71 and older. There are several dietary sources of calcium such as plain low-fat yogurt, tofu, skim milk, cheese and fortified cereals and juices.

If you have low levels of calcium in your blood despite having an adequate dietary intake your doctor may prescribe a calcium supplement.


Do you think that a healthy lifestyle requires not only good-for-you foods, exercise and enough sleep but also taking a daily multivitamin-multimineral? While multivitamins may provide some benefits for certain people such as pregnant women or those at risk for deficiencies due to poor nutrition or certain medical conditions it's important to note that there is no evidence that multivitamins can prevent chronic diseases such as cancer or heart disease. It's also important to talk to your doctor before taking any multivitamin or mineral supplement as they can interact with other medications or cause side effects if taken in high doses. In conclusion, while dietary supplements may offer some potential benefits it's important to understand the risks associated with them and talk to your healthcare team before taking any new supplement. Overall, dietary supplements can be beneficial if taken correctly. However, it's important to remember that they should never be used as a substitute for a healthy diet or lifestyle changes. Talk to your healthcare team about which supplements may be right for you based on your individual needs.