Facts On Nutrition

Nutritional supplements and food marketing campaigns

Things you need to know

1. Don't get distracted.

2. Look past trendy terms.

3. Know your calorie count.

4. Say no to soda.

5. Unfollow you fast food.

6. Demand better.

Dietary Supplement

What are dietary supplement

Dietary supplements aren't always safe or harmless. Even "natural" supplements can be risky for people on certain medicines or with certain medical conditions, and some supplements have been found to be tainted with drugs or other chemicals. See Tainted Products.

Even "traditional remedies" with a long history of use aren't guaranteed to be safe in all cases.

Substances for which safety concerns have been raised include:

  • comfrey
  • chaparral
  • lobelia
  • germander
  • aristolochia
  • ephedra (ma huang)
  • L-tryptophan
  • germanium
  • magnolia-stephania
  • stimulant laxative ingredients, like those found in dieter's teas

Comfrey, for example, contains certain alkaloids that can cause serious liver damage, and aristolochia can cause kidney failure.

Even some vitamins and minerals, when taken in inappropriate amounts, can cause problems. For example, too much vitamin A can reduce bone mineral density, cause birth defects, and lead to liver damage, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

Always read labels and package inserts and follow product directions. But remember that dietary supplement labels and ingredients aren't evaluated by FDA before they're sold. Check with your health care professional — your best and most important source on whether a supplement is safe for you.

For a list of the dietary supplement ingredients for which FDA has issued alerts, visit FDA's website.