The Extent Of Damage From The Use Of Nutritional Supplements
Like any edible substance on earth, ingredients commonly contained in nutritional supplements do have side effects and thus bear health risks. Generally, the severity or seriousness of a risk depends on the dosage, and/or the length of time, a substance or nutrient has been consumed at.
Overall, the risk of harm, or the potential for negative side effects of dietary supplements, is low, even at very high doses and over a long time span.
The reason why these natural health products are extremely safe is that supplement ingredients are, per the official nutritional supplement definition, substances commonly found in food. Basically, supplements are a concentrated form of food.
According to annual data collected by the U.S. Poison Control Centers, infants and very young children (up to about 6 years), unfortunately, experienced the overwhelming majority of side effects of nutritional supplements.
Almost all cases, however, involve the unintentional intake of excessive amounts of some vitamin or supplement ingredient.
Fortunately, extremely few of the side effects of nutritional supplements, due to accidental overexposure, are very serious.
This set of data proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that nutritional supplements are extraordinarily safe, and that the health risks of dietary supplements are low.
Regarding intentional vitamin consumption by adults, the most dangerous health supplements are weight loss, body-building, and sexual enhancement products.
Due to the large demand for these types of products, combined with weak policies regulating vitamins, unscrupulous supplement promoters have flooded the market with cheap, low-quality supplements. Those products tend to be preferentially tainted with contaminants, have other manufacturing inadequacies, and are frequently taken improperly because of the strong attraction of the desired purposes they’re marketed for.
The incidence of adulterated food supplements isn’t insignificant. Product impurities affect the whole spectrum of vitamins and health supplements, including multivitamin supplements. The culprit is a lax legislative framework of dietary supplement regulation.
In other words, besides improper use, the real problem with dietary supplement safety are not the supplements ingredients, it’s the supplement contaminants. Such as pesticides, bacteria (including GMO bacteria), fungi, steroids, heavy metals, and prescription drugs.
Onto the second criteria in the evaluation of the dangers of supplements…
The Comparison With Similar Risks
After the first decade of the 21st century, more than half of the U.S. population takes dietary supplements regularly. A similar large percentage of Americans take one or more pharmaceutical drugs (or over-the-counter medications) on a routine basis. Therefore, these two “healing approaches” are analogous and well suited for a balanced risk comparison.
One of the critical facts about dietary supplements is that few people, if any, die from the consumption of these natural health products every year, just check any annual report by the U.S. Poison Control Centers.
On the other hand, scientific studies and government data show that taking pharmaceutical medications is a huge risk, comparatively (over-the-counter drugs, too, are a comparatively great risk). Hundreds of thousands of serious drug side effects are reported every year.
And worse, over a hundred thousand people get killed each and every year by the proper consumption of pharmaceutical drugs (note: this doesn’t include the many additional deaths caused by improper drug usage).
This comparative risk assessment makes it clear that food supplements are a small danger, while pharmaceutical drugs are a great danger, to public health.
The truth about dietary supplements and risks is… that the dangers of supplements are low.
Conversely, the evidence for vitamin benefits is staggering. Thousands of sound studies, dependable experiments, and massive clinical experience have documented and validated the astonishing benefits of supplements.
The biggest health risks with dietary supplements are the omission to take them in the first place or the failure to take science-based, effective, pure vitamins and supplements.