The Dangers of Dietary Supplements

Many people choose to utilize dietary supplements for a variety of reasons. While some dietary supplements can help you to get the appropriate amounts of nutrients and vitamins outside of your diet, supplements cannot (and should not) replace a healthy diet. They can work in conjunction with your diet to improve your overall health and to even manage conditions like pain. Even with a perfect diet, the poor quality of our food supply and the unfortunately high load of environmental toxins lead to most of us needing a daily supply of some supplements to fill the gaps.

Supplements for Pain

Currently, the United States supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), which means there could be potential dangers of purchasing supplements, especially online. Check out my previous blog on How to Choose High Quality Supplements, despite the lacking regulation. Below I will explain some of the potential dangers while purchasing supplements. Remember, supplements should never be started without first discussing them with your doctor

  1. First and foremost, you still need to consider your diet while taking supplements. Dietary supplements are simply to assist your diet, not replace a health and balanced diet (and lifestyle). You need to discuss with your doctor if you are on certain medications or have certain conditions that prevents proper absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients.
  2. The term “natural” doesn’t always mean it is safe. Some all-natural products can be harmful. For example, the natural botanical product comfrey can harm the liver. A supplement’s chemical makeup can impact how it works in your body.
  3. Supplements could interact with your other prescription or over-the-counter medications and a medical condition you have. Under certain circumstances, combinations of medications, supplements, and/or medical conditions can lead to adverse effects, some of which could be life-threatening. For example, if someone is taking OTC Aspirin with prescription Warfarin and ginkgo biloba, a herbal supplement, there can be internal bleeding because each of these is a blood thinner. Other combinations may cause reduced effectiveness.
  4. Some supplements can cause potentially dangerous interactions during procedures or surgeries. This includes blood pressure changes, heart rate, increased bleeding, etc. which could all adversely impact your wellness.
  5. Unfortunately, the limited regulation of supplements means we cannot be certain what exactly we are consuming. Purchasing supplements that come from companies without cGMPs (see previous article!), can be detrimental. A recent FDA study tested 50 dietary supplements sold on Amazon and found that these products actually had a variety of dangerous drugs which were undeclared (see references below for more info). It is best to purchase medical grade supplements from a dispensary or brand that does batch testing and quality control, such as Fullscript.
  6. Especially when buying online, it is easy to fall for flashy headlines or supplements with stellar reviews which may be falsified. It is also easier to just buy a supplement online without first discussing it with your doctor. Be careful!

Dr. DeCaria has worked with many patients to identify the root cause of their pain and create a personalized treatment plan in order to restore function and revitalize their life. Dr. DeCaria is a double-board certified physician in anesthesiology and pain management medicine with extensive training and experience in treating chronic pain. Using a combination of conventional medicine and functional/integrative medicine she can provide a unique approach to conquering your pain. Schedule your appointment with Dr. DeCaria today at the Revitalize Medical Center in Glenview, IL or Evanston, IL to feel more like yourself again!


Please remember to discuss with your physician prior to starting any supplement, as they may interact with your current medications or other medical conditions. Specific supplement dosages should be determined by your doctor. This page (including all links and blog posts) is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. To schedule an appointment at Revitalize Medical Center, please call (847) 834-4018.

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