A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has revealed that 23,000 people end up in the emergency room each year as a result of dietary supplements. The individuals who show up are children, adults and the elderly — this accounts for most people across the board.
Patients who visit the emergency room typically complain of symptoms, such as heart palpitations, chest pain or choking. Recent surveys have indicated that about 50 percent of U.S. adults have taken some type of dietary supplement over the past month, showing the widespread use of these pills, which are not highly regulated, according to the Washington Post.
As of 2012, there were about 55,000 products on the market that are deemed “supplements.” Among young adults, weight-loss and energy supplements are the biggest concern. Micro-nutrients are the largest issue for older adults.
Choosing Your Supplements Wisely
Because organizations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are not very strict in terms of regulation, it’s up to the consumer to make an educated decision for him or herself when it comes to supplements.
However, the FDA has published a series of tips for the public (assuming you’re interested in using supplements) on how to safely consume these readily available products. First, the FDA notes that it’s important to remember that some supplements may interact with other drugs in the body. As a result, it’s essential to consult a doctor before beginning any type of supplement, even if it’s an over-the-counter product.
Next, it’s worth noting that too many supplements can be detrimental. Believe it or not, there are limits on how many vitamins your body can take before it’s no longer having a positive effect (and you can find those limits here).
Finally, the FDA states that supplement manufacturers are responsible for making sure their products are safe before they become available to the public. As we’ve seen, this does not necessarily mean that they cannot cause harm. In short, any supplement should be taken at your own risk.
It’s up to you and your doctor to decide what’s best for your body and nutrient needs, and it may save you a trip to the emergency room.
- Cha, Ariana Eunjung. “Dietary supplements send more than 23,000 people to the ER each year.” Washington Post. October 15, 2015.
- “Tips for Dietary Supplement Users.” FDA. Retrieved October 22, 2015.