Q: Are supplements dangerous?
A: It may seem hard to believe, but the supplement industry isn't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or any other government agency. It's only after multiple reports of adverse effects of a product that the government can step in to investigate and attempt to take that product off the market. This means that many supplement companies can (and do) cut corners, skimp on research and sell products that are of lesser quality.
There is some good news: Many of the most basic vitamin supplements tend to be safe when taken properly.
Popular Vitamin Supplements
This combination of various B-vitamins (typically thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folic acid and B12) doesn't provide much benefit in supplement form, despite the promises of boosting energy levels.
There's been a lot of buzz about this fat-soluble vitamin. Since it's only available in a small number of foods (salmon and fortified dairy products being some of the best sources), deficiencies are common. On the flip side, taking in too much can be toxic. If you're taking a supplement, keep dosages below 4,000 IU a day unless you have had a blood test to diagnose a deficiency.
Scientific research has found a small amount of evidence that the vitamin may help reduce the duration of the sniffles, but it can't prevent them. A diet with lots of fruits and veggies is the best way to go.
This vitamin can be extra confusing to consumers because it's often available in two different forms. Beta-carotene is the antioxidant form of vitamin A and is found in red, orange and dark green fruits and veggies. The other form, called retinol, is found mostly in animal products like eggs and dairy. Too much of the retinol form can cause liver damage and birth defects.
Research has found that average doses (400 IU per day) of this supplement can lead to an increased risk of stroke and other life-threatening conditions. It's best to stick to food sources where the risks are few.
Courtesy Dana Angelo White on foodnetwork.com
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