Dietary Supplements Consumer
Many factors play a role in deciding if a dietary
supplement is right for you, including possible drug interactions and
side effects. Do not self-diagnose any health condition.
Together, you and
your healthcare team can make the best decision for optimal health.
- Talk with a health care provider
before using a dietary supplement.
This is a good idea, especially for certain population groups. If you
are pregnant, nursing a baby, or have a chronic medical condition such
as diabetes or heart disease, be sure to consult your doctor or
pharmacist before purchasing or taking any supplement.
- Know that some supplements may
interact with prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Taking a combination of supplements or using these products together
with medications (whether prescription or OTC drugs) could produce
adverse effects, some of which could be life-threatening. For example,
Coumadin (a prescription medicine), ginkgo biloba (an herbal
supplement), aspirin (an OTC drug), and vitamin E (a vitamin
supplement) can each thin the blood, and taking any of these products
together can increase the potential for internal bleeding.
- Inform your doctor about all the
supplements you use, especially before surgery.
Some supplements can have unwanted effects during surgery. You may be
asked to stop taking these products at least 2-3 weeks ahead of the
procedure to avoid potentially dangerous interactions. These
interactions could cause changes in heart rate or blood pressure,
increased bleeding, or other problems that could adversely affect the
outcome of your surgery.
- Report adverse effects from the
use of dietary supplements to MedWatch.
If you think you have been harmed by a dietary supplement, contact your
health provider and report it to FDA's MedWatch program by calling
(800) FDA-1088, or visiting www.fda.gov/medwatch/how.htm
Examples of Supplements
That Have Carried FDA Cautions About Safety
- Some "dieter's teas"
- PC SPES and SPES
- Aristolochic acid
- St. John's wort
- GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid), GBL
(gamma butyrolactone), and BD (1,4-butanediol)
- Certain products, marketed for sexual
enhancement and claimed to be
"natural" versions of the drug Viagra, which were found to contain an
unlabeled drug (sildenafil or tadalafil)