While mineral-derived supplements such as multivitamins, zinc, and calcium contain nutritional value and are generally harmless, Marcus explains that herbal or “all natural” supplements are often of poor quality and offer little or no nutritional value. Herbal products can pose unexpected risks because many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong effects on the body. For example, taking a combination of herbal supplements or using supplements along with prescription drugs could lead to harmful and even life-threatening results. When advertising supplements, manufacturers must comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, and only make claims that are truthful and substantiated.
Claims are not allowed to be “misleading”, but in reality, ads often spread the truth. A 2002 FTC report on 300 weight loss ads, two-thirds of which were for dietary supplements, found many false or misleading claims, including safety claims made without any scientific data to support them. These ads often implied safety in highlighting “natural ingredients”. Unfortunately, “natural” and “safe” are not the same thing; arsenic is natural, for example, as are lead and mercury, but it is not safe to eat them.
Botanical supplements (such as garlic, ginger, ginkgo biloba, echinacea and others) are made from plant material, so many of them are sold as “natural” products. But plants themselves are made up of many chemicals. Even different parts of the same plant may contain different chemicals. Some of these may be helpful, while others may be poisonous or cause allergies in humans.
Botanicals that are marketed as “all-natural” are not always the most useful, as they may not be refined to remove potentially harmful chemicals. Natural products can also be grown in different conditions (such as in different soils), which can also affect the levels of some chemicals. This can make it difficult to accurately control what is in the final product. Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects on the body.
This could make them unsafe in some situations and harm or complicate their health. For example, the following actions could lead to harmful consequences, including fatal ones,. You buy vitamins and other nutritional supplements to improve your health, but do you know exactly what to look for or what's inside the bottle? Just because a supplement is labeled as all-natural doesn't mean it's safe or effective. Not all herbs and supplements are safe.
If you are not sure about the safety of a supplement or herb, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or dietitian. If there is a serious problem associated with a dietary supplement, manufacturers should report it to the FDA as an adverse event. Some companies don't follow FDA rules about making claims and labeling supplements correctly. Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring estrogen-like compounds that can contribute to diseases such as breast and ovarian cancer.
The Office of Dietary Supplements website has a useful form, My Dietary Supplement and Medication Record, that you can print and fill out at home. If you use an herbal health product or supplement, read the directions on the label to learn how much to take and how often you should take it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. You are more likely to experience side effects from dietary supplements if you take them in high doses or instead of prescription drugs, or if you take many different supplements.
The Dietary Supplement Label Database, a project of the National Institutes of Health, has all the information found on the labels of many dietary supplement brands marketed in the United States. Scientists at the centers carry out laboratory research on the safety, efficacy and mechanisms of action of botanical dietary supplements that have a high potential to benefit human health. Many supplements have not been well tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers or children. Talk to your health care team before taking large doses of any vitamin, mineral, or other supplement.
NCCIH Co-Sponsors Centers for the Advancement of Research in Botanicals and Other Natural Products Program. Manufacturers may say, for example, that a supplement promotes health or supports a function of the body (such as immunity or heart health). In some cases, when herbal supplements have been tried, they have been found to contain very little or no of the listed ingredients. .