Overuse of supplements without medical guidance can have serious side effects, warns expert

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people have become health conscious. This had led to a growth in gym memberships across the globe. As a result of the heightened awareness stemming from the pandemic, many people have become more mindful of their dietary habits and have turned to various supplements, such as multivitamins, calcium supplements, immune boosters, weight loss products, dietary supplements, herbal remedies, complimentary products, and micronutrients.

The unregulated and unsupervised consumption of supplements can lead to severe side effects, said Dr. Omkar Sadigale. In a piece published in the Free Press Journal, the Consultant of Orthopaedics at SRV Hospitals in Chembur, made the statement.

A common assumption within the population is that a healthy lifestyle includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and the addition of dietary supplements, micronutrients, and other similar products. These products are often promoted and marketed based on their potential benefits, but there is limited information available regarding their side effects and adverse reactions, which have led to emergency situations arising from their indiscriminate use.

In reality, these products can indeed result in emergencies.

Dr. Omkar Sadigale

The demographic most susceptible to these incidents typically comprises of young adults in their third and fourth decades of life, including health enthusiasts, gym devotees, athletes, and older individuals with chronic conditions. These groups are more prone to abusing supplements, often relying on information obtained from social media, the internet, and unqualified non-medical sources.

These products are frequently used and recommended without providing adequate education to the general public regarding their potential benefits, proper consumption methods, and the warning signs of adverse reactions, including allergies and overuse.

One fundamental distinction between supplements and pharmaceutical drugs is that drug ingredient concentrations are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whereas supplements lack such oversight. This lack of monitoring makes supplements more susceptible to side effects and adverse reactions.

Even vitamins prescribed by healthcare providers come with specific guidelines for consumption that must be followed. For instance, many patients are advised to take Vitamin D3 and calcium supplements, but only a few truly grasp the correct dosing regimen. Overconsumption of these vitamins can result in severe adverse effects and medical emergencies. For example, excessive Vitamin A intake can have detrimental effects on the nervous system, liver function, and skin.

Hypervitaminosis of Vitamin D poses risks to the kidneys, while excessive zinc intake can lead to symptoms like nausea, reduced appetite, and altered levels of beneficial cholesterol. Excessive calcium consumption is known to increase the risk of kidney stones as a well-documented complication.

Certain supplements require specific methods of consumption. For instance, oil-based preparations of vitamin D3 are most effectively absorbed when taken after meals, while water-based preparations can be consumed with or without food. Likewise, iron intake should be avoided with tea or coffee, as these beverages can hinder absorption. Instead, it is best to take iron supplements on an empty stomach or in combination with vitamin C for enhanced absorption.

It’s crucial to emphasize that exceeding the recommended dosage not only increases costs but also elevates the risk of experiencing side effects. Ingesting supplements without proper medical guidance can pose potential health hazards. Therefore, it is advisable to always consult with your healthcare provider regarding the necessity, appropriate dosage, duration of use, and the signs of potential emergencies. Additionally, you can work with a dietician to plan your meals and essential supplement intake to ensure a balanced and healthy approach to nutrition.

(The article is published under a mutual content partnership arrangement between The Free Press Journal and Connected to India)