Dietary supplements can sometimes be a health hazard. In recent months several studies have alerted us to the danger of certain dietary supplements. The information has, of course, been relayed by a certain press that was quick to demonize a whole as dangerous and unnecessary. Consumers often make a direct comparison between drugs and food supplements. The first would be extremely powerful but of dangerous side effects, and the second would have a softer efficiency without side effects. This simplistic view does not conform to reality. In fact, many drugs are derived from plants: quinine, for example, used for centuries against malaria is taken from the bark of cinchona trees found in the Andes and which has many side effects and can cause death. Similarly, fatal accidents recorded each year by users of dietary supplements herbal purchased online attest to a danger which can sometimes resemble that of drugs.
Faced with all these new data, we decided to take stock of the main hazards and how to avoid, for the purchase of a food supplement is always a healthy thing, without deleterious effects.
Iron and mortality
A recent study involving more than 41,000 women in the United States showed that dietary supplements containing iron could increase mortality dramatically in proportion to the dose ingested. You can read the analyzes of Thierry Souccar, Dr. Curtay and Julien Venesson here. We advise not to take a food supplement containing iron unless you have iron deficiency proven by a blood test.
Copper and manganese
Copper and manganese, such as iron, are oxidizers. In the same study, they also seem to increase mortality. Ideally, you should take food supplements without copper or manganese. However, such products are difficult to find when it comes to multivitamins.
Zinc is an antioxidant that is involved in the activity of producing an important antioxidant enzyme in the body, superoxide dismutase. Many benefits are possible with zinc, like helping the immune system to protect the body against cancer. However, studies have shown an increased risk of prostate cancer in men who regularly consume a lot of zinc. We recommend not to exceed 15 mg per day.
Vitamin E is a set of 8 substances: four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Also, there are different forms of vitamin E, natural or synthetic. Natural vitamin E is twice as bioavailable in the body than the synthetic vitamin E; you can recognize it in the ingredients by its name “d-tocopherol” or “d-alpha-tocopherol” against “dl-tocopherol” for its synthetic neighbor. Added to this is that vitamin E in food supplements is almost always in the form of alpha-tocopherol alone while our body preferentially stores the gamma-tocopherol. This will have little importance if the studies do not tend to show that high doses of alpha-tocopherol empty our body of its gamma-tocopherol with a consequent higher risk of heart attack and certain cancers. Therefore, modest doses shouldn’t exceed 200 IU per day.
Food supplements are safe when used rightly; it can quickly become toxic, either because of inadequate doses or as a result of an industrial accident as if it was reported recently. So, follow our advice in this previous news. Learn all the blood tests, the use of safe supplements. You can read the doctor’s Houssin Brigitte guide but also our comprehensive monograph of vitamin D (Read an excerpt here >>).
Vitamin B9 dietary supplement is in summary form. Its incomplete metabolism seems to have adverse effects on long-term health when supplementation exceeds a certain threshold. For this reason, We advise not to exceed 200 microns per day as part of regular supplementation. For more information on natural and synthetic vitamins.
Pregnant women, breastfeeding, people taking drugs
Do not take any supplements without medical advice. This could have severe consequences for your child or your health if you take medications. Many supplements can interact with drugs; we have grouped the most important interactions to avoid in this article.
If you want to take supplements, pay attention to the presence of vitamin A or beta-carotene: high doses are associated with a higher risk of lung cancer. These doses are more commonly found in antioxidant food supplements.
herbal supplements have an excellent reputation but not immune to risks. A recent study showed that many food supplements containing certain plants are also purveyors of potentially carcinogenic toxic substances. If you use one of the plants mentioned in this article, follow our tips discussed herein. The dangerousness of plants is also greatly increased under the hazardous use of essential oils.
Dietary supplements, such as drugs, can have side effects against indications. A minimum of vigilance is required. Ideally, we only take what we need and well-formulated products. Dietary supplements do not aim to fill gaps in food or improve our health. From this perspective, if you look in your choices, ask for advice from a competent person, a doctor accustomed to food supplements, a physician trained in nutrition therapy, or micronutrition.