Are dietary supplements safe? | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

Are dietary supplements safe?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • It is important to be informed about any dietary supplement you are taking.
  • Dietary supplements have the same potential for harm as prescription medications.
  • Dietary supplements can adversely interact with medications you are already taking, so be sure to check with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.

If you are questioning whether dietary supplements are safe, good for you!

Whether or not dietary supplements are safe to take depends on a number of factors.

Many people assume that dietary supplements are safe and carry no adverse side effects. While in their basic form, this may be true, there are some outside factors that could make them dangerous for you while being safe for someone else.

Of course, supplementation is only one part of an overall healthy lifestyle; exercise matters, too. Go PRO today for access to workout routines, goal trackers, and more.

When Are Dietary Supplements Unsafe?

It is difficult to say when a dietary supplement isn’t safe. The reason for this is that the safety of a dietary supplement will depend entirely on your specific situation.

For example, if you have a heart condition for which you take medication, then a supplement might interact with that medication.

In addition, there are some supplements that cannot be taken if you have diabetes, liver problems, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, and so on. In fact, the main reason people have adverse reactions to dietary supplements is that they interact with the medications they are taking.

As another example, there are some supplements that can help lower your blood pressure. If, however, you are already on medication for lowering your blood pressure and you take a supplement with this effect, you could be in danger of lowering your blood pressure to dangerous levels.

It is extremely important, therefore, that if you have any medical conditions or if you are taking any medications, that you discuss with your doctor the addition of any dietary supplements to your diet.

This can help circumvent any potential problems taking a dietary supplement might cause.

Where Can I Find out If a Supplement Is Unsafe for Certain Medical Conditions?

Responsible supplement companies will inform you of any side effects and interactions that may be cause for concern. However, this information is usually only discovered in the course of clinical studies, and most supplement companies don’t utilize clinical studies.

Those companies that do conduct studies usually conduct studies so small that there is no way for them to determine the effect of the supplement combined with a lot of conditions or medications.

That is why talking to your doctor first is recommended.

Your physician should be able to tell you if any ingredient found in the supplement may be cause for concern.

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Doesn’t the FDA Ensure That Dietary Supplements Are Safe?

The FDA does not hold supplement companies to the same standards that they do pharmaceutical companies. Supplement manufacturers do have to practice safe food methods — their products are considered to fall under the food category rather than the medicine category.

With that being said, the FDA does do some follow up when a supplement company makes certain claims about their products. This is especially true if a company claims its product naturally boosts testosterone levels.

In many cases, the FDA will test these products to ensure they don’t contain any illegal substances, such as steroids. If they do, the FDA will require the company to pull the product off of the shelves, reimburse their customers, and pay a fine.

Another area where the FDA may step in is if a company is clearly engaging in false advertising. Unfortunately, most supplement companies exaggerate the benefits of their products to some degree and it isn’t easy for them to catch everyone at it.

What If I Don’t Have Any Medical Conditions — Are All Supplements Safe?

Even if you don’t have any medical conditions, you still need to use caution when taking supplements.

Take the time to learn about the side effects caused by each of the ingredients found in the supplement that you are considering using.

In addition, look for reviews and comments about the product.

You may also want to consider maintaining a diary to document any changes in your body while on the supplements. If there is anything that concerns you, speak to your doctor and find out if it might be the supplement causing the problem.

There are a lot of supplements on the market, many of which have never caused problems in healthy individuals. This doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t do your due diligence to ensure what you are taking is safe!

And don’t forget that taking supplements is just part of a healthy diet and exercise regimen. For a total healthier you, consider signing up for our PRO plan to stay focused and healthy as you track your daily victories.

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