For Supplement Safety
dietary supplements enjoy a stellar safety record (see our editorial
Safer Than Food),
some cautions do apply.
anything, including supplements, can be toxic if one takes too
much. Controversy surrounds the question of safe upper limits,
more technically known as tolerable upper intake levels. (See
our story on RDAs
And Safe Upper Limits: Solid Science Versus Bureaucratic Bias).
most supplements, scientific information is still quite sparse
concerning how much is too much.
vitamins and minerals are safe at a wide range of dosage levels.
Some vitamins are remarkably safe even when taken in very large
quantities. However, a few minerals can be hazardous at levels
only a little higher than the Recommended Dietary Allowance
you take levels higher than the RDA of vitamins and minerals,
be sure to consult your doctor or nutritionist. Make sure you
know what levels are considered dangerous -- and learn about
symptoms of overdosages. (See our links to sources of information
about specific supplements.)
botanical supplements act gently on the body, but some can be
quite potent. Many modern drugs (including morphine, digitalis,
ephedrine and curare) are based on herbal remedies used by indigenous
the most part, centuries of experience has shown herbalists
what dosages are safe and effective, and which plants can be
hazardous. Be sure you know the potential dangers of any botanical
supplements you are taking.
botanical supplements and some nutritional supplements can interact
with prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Sources of information
on these interactions are growing.
with other substances, allergic reactions and sensitivies do
exist. Check labels for substances you are allergic to.