Toxicity from dietary supplements discussion

A dietary supplement is a substance that intends to supplement the normal diet of an individual. It typically contains dietary ingredients like vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, herbs, and botanicals that can be ingested in pills, tablets, capsules, or liquids. When certain substances are taken in larger than usual amounts, it could lead to toxicity. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements differently compared to regular drugs. Generally, drug manufacturers are required to document the drug’s effectiveness and safety before it is permitted to be brought to the market. The toxicity must also be checked. In the case of dietary supplements, there is no need for demonstrating efficacy. The manufacturers cannot claim that their supplements can be used to treat or prevent specific diseases. Therefore, due to the lack of proper dietary guidelines for these supplements, there is an increased possibility of toxicity and potential side effects.

Vitamin, mineral supplements, and their toxicity
Vitamins are the essential nutrients required by the body to maintain normal health, growth, and development. However, excessive amounts or misuse can have potential health risks resulting in a condition known as vitamin toxicity or hypervitaminosis.

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It is usually caused due to an excessive build-up of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A and D) rather than water-soluble vitamins as vitamins A and D remain deposited in the body for a longer time in the liver and fatty tissues and become dangerous and toxic.

The side effects of vitamin toxicity include headache, convulsions (seizures), fatigue, fainting, confusion, mood change, irritability, frequent urination, increased amounts of urine, increased heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and vision impairments. Other symptoms include bone and joint pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and a moderate weight loss due to increased muscle expansion.

Mineral toxicity occurs due to excessive amounts of the trace minerals present in the body that are generally required in very small amounts. For example, increased plasma sodium concentration causes a medical condition known as hypernatremia characterized by shrinkage of cells in body tissues, including brain cells leading to confusion, coma, lung muscle paralysis, and eventually death.

Other minerals such as potassium, iodine, zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, selenium, fluoride, chloride, and molybdenum can lead to constipation, bloating, nausea, intestinal gas, weak muscles, swelling of the thyroid gland, excessive perspiration, fragile nails, hair loss, and brittle bones and joints.

Fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids and their toxicity
Omega-3 fatty acids constitute the essential fatty acids that are not produced by the human body and should be consumed in the diet. Although polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids have increased cardiovascular benefits and are widely utilized as dietary supplements when ingested in the form of fish oils or mixtures of fatty acids purified from fish oils, excessive amounts can be toxic.

The side effects of toxicity caused by fish oil and omega-3 supplements include abnormal blood clotting and interference with drugs such as warfarin is responsible for targeting blood clotting. Sometimes, they trigger gastrointestinal side effects such as belching, indigestion, and diarrhea.

People with allergies to fish or shellfish are at a greater risk of developing toxicity on the consumption of fish oil supplements. They should also ensure that their supplement comes from reliable sources because some fish products could contain dangerous pollutants from the ocean. In addition, several fish oil supplements, including cod liver oil, are usually high in vitamin A which can be toxic in large amounts and lead to hypervitaminosis.

Protein powders and body building supplements
Protein powders typically consist of dairy proteins, including casein, whey, and plant-derived proteins from soy, rice, and potatoes. The consumption of these supplements is usually popular among athletes and bodybuilders for maintaining bone and muscle strength. Since they contain large amounts of added sugars, artificial flavoring, toxic chemicals, vitamins, minerals, thickeners, and calories, the overdose of such supplements is usually associated with potential health risks.

Tests conducted on the protein powder supplements revealed high levels of pesticides, heavy metals, and other unsafe contaminants. Most of them contained detectable levels of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, which can cause permanent health concerns that include kidney and brain damage.

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