A healthy diet is essential for one’s well-being as it is the primary source of nutrients. However, a balanced regimen can be difficult to achieve, and many people choose to take dietary supplements to compensate for the lack of minerals and vitamins and obtain an adequate amount of nutritious elements. This paper will argue against the use of such supplements as they present the risk of toxicity, interfere with prescribed medication, and exacerbate underlying health conditions.
Dietary supplements are widely used by the residents of the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (2019), over one-third of Americans buy and consume various vitamins, minerals, and botanicals to enhance a poor diet or treat and prevent disease. However, many are unaware of the potential toxicity of supplements not recommended by a trained medical professional. Moderate intake of vitamins is highly unlikely to cause any severe damage, while an increased dosage leads to their excess level in the patient’s body (Ronis et al., 2018). For instance, uncontrolled iron consumption is linked with liver injury and iron storage disease, and surplus vitamin A can substantially impact bone health (Ronis et al., 2018). An uninformed decision to take supplements can lead to a notable decline in one’s health and well-being. Therefore, excessive use of minerals and vitamins should be considered a major argument against supplements.
Interaction with other medications is another concern when taking additional minerals and vitamins. According to Ronis et al. (2018), only a quarter of all people consuming dietary supplements made this decision based on advice from a medical professional. The majority of patients who have introduced vitamins into their diet made this choice themselves without knowing how they interact with various medications. For example, fish oils and omega-3 can exacerbate anticoagulation and lead to bleeding in individuals taking prescribed anticoagulant medications (Ronis et al., 2018). Such herbals as goldenseal and St. John’s wort interfere with most prescribed and over-the-counter drugs as they inhibit enzymes responsible for the metabolism of many of the known pharmaceuticals (Asher et al., 2017). In addition, some active agents may be unidentified in the composition, leading to unpredictable adverse health effects (Tucker et al., 2018). Overall, minerals, vitamins, and herbals can interfere with both prescribed and over-the-counter medications, resulting in serious harm to the patients’ health.
Furthermore, dietary supplements can exacerbate underlying medical conditions in persons taking them without medical advice. As patients rarely disclose their mineral and vitamin intake, they may not be aware of how these elements can affect their preexisting illnesses and diseases. Active components interfering with the prescribed medications can negatively impact certain conditions as the metabolism of pharmaceutical agents is impaired (Asher et al., 2017). Some diseases can also be exacerbated by the abnormal amounts of specific elements in the system. In addition, vitamin A toxicity can lead to the development and exacerbation of lung and prostate cancers (Ronis et al., 2018). Thus, consumption of dietary supplements without a trained medical practitioner’s advice can severely impact one’s preexisting conditions.
In summary, vitamins, minerals, and herbals are often used to complement a poor diet. However, many patients fail to inform their physicians of this intake, leading to adverse effects on their health. Dietary supplements present a significant risk of toxic poisoning, as increased ingestion of individual vitamins and minerals leads to their abnormal level in the patient’s system. Moreover, active ingredients in these supplements can inhibit the metabolism of agents in prescribed medications and exacerbate preexisting medical conditions.
Asher, G. N., Corbett, A. H., & Hawke, R. L. (2017). Common herbal dietary supplement–drug interactions. American Family Physician, 96(2), 101–107.
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. (2019). Multivitamin/mineral supplements.
Ronis, M. J., Pedersen, K. B., & Watt, J. (2018). Adverse effects of nutraceuticals and dietary supplements. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 58(1), 583–601.
Tucker, J., Fischer, T., Upjohn, L., Mazzera, D., & Kumar, M. (2018). Unapproved pharmaceutical ingredients included in dietary supplements associated with US Food and Drug Administration warnings. JAMA Network Open, 1(6), 1–11.