5 things to know when taking dietary supplements

5 things to know when taking dietary supplements

Many people supplement their daily diets with herbals, vitamins, minerals, or other substances.

But they may not know clearly about the products they choose and may not make the best decisions for their health.

Experts from the FDA suggest that everyone who takes dietary supplements should know five things:

Do I need to think about my total diet?

Dietary supplements are supposed to supplement the diets of some people, but not to replace the balance of the foods in a healthy diet.

Research has shown that too much of some nutrients can harm your health.

It is important to know the functions and potential benefits of vitamins and minerals, as well as upper safe limits for nutrients.

Do I need to talk to my doctor before using a supplement?

For many people, this can be a good idea, because dietary supplements may not be risk-free under all circumstances.

For example, if you are pregnant, nursing a baby, or have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, you need to consult your doctor before taking any supplement.

You also need to get advice from your doctor or pharmacist before giving dietary supplements to your child.

Some dietary supplements may interact with your medicines.

Taking a combination of supplements or using these products together with medications may produce harmful effects. Be alert to advisories about these products.

For example, Coumadin (a prescription medicine), ginkgo biloba (an herbal supplement), aspirin (an OTC drug) and vitamin E (a vitamin supplement) can each thin the blood.

Taking any of these products together can increase the potential for internal bleeding.

Some supplements may have negative effects during surgery.
It is important to tell your doctor about any vitamins, minerals, herbals or any other supplements you are taking before surgery.

You may be asked to stop taking these products at least 2-3 weeks ahead of the procedure to avoid dangerous supplement/drug interactions.

These effects may lead to changes in heart rate, blood pressure and increased bleeding.

You should report adverse effects from the use of dietary supplements to the MedWatch.

You may directly report to the FDA if you find adverse effects from the use of dietary supplements.

You can call the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088, by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178 or reporting report a serious adverse event or illness on-line.

FDA would like to know whenever you think a product caused you a serious problem, even if you are not sure that the product was the cause, and even if you do not visit a doctor or clinic.

In addition to communicating with FDA on-line or by phone, you may use the MedWatch form available from the FDA Web site.

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