Taking the wrong supplement is not just a matter of missing out on the benefits. In fact, thousands of patients experience serious side effects and illness from off-the-shelf vitamin and herbal solutions. In the case of the dietary supplement Ephedra, which has been used to help people lose weight or increase energy, there have been over 80 deaths linked to its use.
Some people also have exposed themselves to possible overdoses by taking a combination of herbal and vitamin supplements that contain overlapping doses of nutrients. Excessive doses of vitamin A, for example, can cause liver and nerve damage, bone loss and birth defects. Yet many off-the-shelf supplements contain more than twice the daily dosage of vitamin A that is considered safe.
Similarly, vitamin D can be so toxic when it is taken in large doses that it can cause the body to over-absorb calcium, even pulling it from the bones and potentially causing a wide range of serious health problems.
Because of the limited regulation in the supplement industry, some vitamins contain lead, which is toxic for the human body.
Recognizing the dangers linked to supplements and the confusion about taking such products, you should consult a physician before taking supplements.