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Are Your Supplements Helping or Harming You?

By on March 16, 2014
You’ve probably been told you need to take supplements to be healthy. Taking the right supplements could optimize your health. But, not all supplements are what they appear to be — and some could actually harm you.

Not All Supplements Are What They Say They Are

Most herbal supplements aren’t approved by the FDA, and while this isn’t a big deal for most medications (even Aspirin isn’t approved), some supplement companies are taking advantage. New research has shown that many herbal supplements contain filler items — and these fillers are not listed on the label. A study recently published by BMC Medicine used exclusive DNA testing on 44 separate supplements made by 12 different manufacturers. What they found was alarming to say the least: over 60 percent of the supplements tested contained plant-based fillers that weren’t listed on the label.

While some of these plant fillers are harmless, others could be potentially harmful. For example, some supplements contained Senna Alexandrina, a plant that creates a laxative effect. Others contained feverfew, a weed that has been associated with painful symptoms and is considered dangerous to pregnant women.

Other supplements were found to have high concentrations of wheat, rice, soybeans and other fillers that aren’t listed on the label. These are all known allergens that could be life threatening if taken by someone who has a sensitivity to them.  These same supplements also did not have warning labels for those with allergies.

Even after the fillers, there was one big issue: most of these supplements didn’t contain the main ingredient they claimed to have and those that did, had such a small amount it wouldn’t have done much.

Supplements Aren’t One-Size-Fits-All

For the most part, supplements are considered safe, but you should always consult a physician before adding supplements. People on specific medications or with underlying medical conditions (i.e. high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) could suffer from an adverse reaction by adding a supplement to their medications and/or conditions.

For example, people taking blood thinners could have a negative reaction when they consume vitamin K. People taking St. John’s wort (an herb designed for mild depression) can actually reverse the effectiveness of depression medications. Lastly, most supplements have not been adequately tested for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Therefore, if any of this applies to you, you should consult your physician before adding any supplements to your diet.

It is always best to consult a physician that knows your medical history and any medications you might be taking to see whether a supplement is right for you. Period.

Get Nutrients the Right Way

While supplements help you get the nutrients your diet is lacking, you could just add those nutrients into your daily diet. It is easy to overdose on vitamins with supplements, but when you eat raw foods, your body absorbs the nutrients evenly and it is almost impossible to overdose. Just by adding more fruits, vegetables and raw protein into your diet you can increase the amounts of vitamins and minerals your body gets each day. Lastly, avoid drinking your calories with highly processed, sugary drinks and using filler items or high-fat foods. Instead, fill up on healthy, vitamin-packed foods.

Readers: Do you take supplements and have you ever looked at the ingredients in your supplements?

Source: www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/11/222

 

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One Comment

  1. Chris

    April 28, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    You put in the top of the article that ASPIRIN was not approved by the FDA. That is INCORRECT. There are a couple of products that Bayer came out with that are mixed with aspirin that aren’t approved. But get your facts straight. It is approved.

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