November 8, 2011

Dietary Supplements and Your Doctor Visits

This is a topic that I cannot seem to stay away from as it is constantly in the news. I understand the concerns of the medical community in trying to warn patients about the harmful effects and potential deadly effects of some supplements and herbal medications. Having just written recently about the toxic effects of overdosing in Vitamin D, I am not immune to the need to bring this to the attention of the public as well.

The consumption of dietary supplements as increased from about 20 percent in 1970 to about 50 percent in 2006. This is a fact of life and people need to be aware of the dangers inherit in taking some supplements when certain prescriptions are taken. Most people ignore these warnings because they think because these supplements are found in nature, they can do no harm.

This article in Medscape should be read and serve as a reminder of some of the more common dangers people often overlook. This part of the article is very important and needs to be read as it could affect you. If you think this is a joke, I do not want to think about the complications you could suffer if you need to take some of the medications they react with in unfavorable ways.

The medical profession often strikes out at supplements, but in these proven circumstances, their concern is well justified and I have to support their concerns. If you are asked what supplements you are taking, please, please list all of them to prevent conflicts and even potentially deadly results. It is for your benefit they are asking.

If you are in excellent health, then there should be no concern, but if you blood pressure is elevated, some of the supplements are known to raise blood pressure and it might be that stopping these supplements could bring your blood pressure back within the desired range. This could save the need for blood pressure medications.

Many people also do not think, yes, I said think, that some supplements can cause some of the other problems mentioned in the table. I admit I was a believer is a couple of the supplements (Aloe and Goldenseal) and when I developed loose bowel movements, I wonder why. I was finally able to get to the information (a little more difficult 20 years ago) and stopped using them and problem solved, but not overnight.

This is why I encourage and urge everyone to fully disclose to your doctor(s) what supplements you are taking, the dosage taken, and even how long you have been taking them. I also strongly suggest that you learn everything about the supplement(s) you are taking to know what side effects are possible, what dangers may be present, and what limits you should be aware of to prevent dangerous toxic effects.

Even on today's internet, some information is very difficult to find. Yes, promoters of supplements and ardent herbalists will provide the health benefits with little or no scientific support, but they seldom provide any information about side effects with prescription medications or what levels may cause the supplement to be toxic. Many will deny that there can be problems.

Just because they are derived from nature, does not mean they are safe. This is a myth followed by most people and promoted by herbalists and health food stores. If you are a regular reader, you know this is a topic of many blogs and until people learn to be careful and know there are some dangers and potential problems, I will probably continue to blog about them. Recent blogs – No 1, No 2, No 3, No 4, No 5, No 6, and No 7.

Do I use supplements? Yes, and I am very careful in how I use them and generally I have researched the manufacturers to know their reputations and what, if any, problems they have had with business practices.

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