Are supplements safe

June 1, 2024 | 2 Min Read

Healthcare professionals often recommend supplements if you have certain health conditions, are at risk of certain conditions, or have a nutrient deficiency in your diet. For instance, they might advise that you take an iron supplement if you have anaemia, or calcium and Vitamin D if you a have risk of osteoporosis. But that doesn’t mean it’s always safe to take supplements, as they can have side effects and risks. 

Although many supplements have known wellness benefits, and are generally safe, there are also risks you should be aware of. In certain instances, supplements can be dangerous; for example, if taken with other prescribed medications, before surgery, while pregnant or breastfeeding, in larger than recommended amounts, or taken for an unconfirmed medical problem. 

Also, the effects of many supplements haven’t been tested in children, pregnant women and other groups. That’s why it’s important to talk with your doctor if you’re thinking about taking any supplements. The risks related to taking a supplement depends on the supplement type, the dosage, the reason you’re taking it, and factors such as your overall health and any medications you take. 

The advice from health professionals isn’t to avoid taking supplements altogether, but to exercise caution when using them. Here are our top ten things you should know if you are thinking about adding a supplement to your wellness regime. 

1.  It’s recommended to always consult with your doctor before taking any new supplement to make sure it’s safe for you.
2.  Take supplements as directed by your doctor.

3.  Read the label, including ingredients, drug interactions, and percent daily value.
4.  Be wary of claims such as “completely safe”, “works better than…”, or has “no side effects.” 
5.  Unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure diseases, so they should not make claims, such as “reduces pain” or “treats heart disease.” Claims like these can only legitimately be made for drugs.
6.  Remember that the term “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “safe.”
7.  Use caution when buying supplements online, only buy from reputable sources, and look for independent quality assessment seals and third-party verification for added safety.
8.  Be very cautious about taking multiple supplements at the same time.
9.  The use of supplements in certain scenarios won’t do you any harm; for example taking added vitamin D during the winter months.
10.  If you are scheduled to have any type of surgical procedure, always talk with your healthcare provider about any supplements you are taking.
The bottom line is that supplements can be beneficial if prescribed and taken in the right way for the right reason. However, supplements should never be viewed as a substitute for a nutrient-rich, healthy diet. Health professionals recommend getting the majority of your minerals and vitamins through food as opposed to supplements. Fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, fish, and whole, unprocessed foods contain nutrients and other substances your body needs that cannot be found in a pill. 

If you have any questions about incorporating supplements into your routine, please remember to use our Telehealth hub,  included in most plans. Our Telehealth hub connects you to a medical professional within minutes, wherever you are.


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