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Are Vitamin Supplements Dangerous?

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As a country, we’ve gone a little bit crazy for supplements and vitamins. And why wouldn’t we? After all, they promise to help us lose weight, give us more energy, and make us healthier in myriad ways. Over 150 million of us are buying and consuming supplements each year, and because the supplement industry isn’t tightly regulated, we don’t always know exactly what we are buying, and that can be dangerous. A 2015 study showed that over 20,000 people visit emergency rooms every year because of injuries resulting from dietary supplements.

Many of the people who end up in emergency rooms because of a supplement-related injury are young, and seek emergency medical treatment because they have consumed a diet or fitness supplement that contains an amphetamine-like chemical, which can cause serious medical complications, including increased heart rate, chest pain, irregular heart rhythms, elevated blood pressure, and even stroke. Others visit the hospital because they have had a serious allergic reaction to something in a vitamin or supplement. And in the older population, choking on large vitamin pills–which can be larger than prescription pills — is a real risk and can lead to serious injury.

While it’s not clear how many of these vitamin and supplement injuries result in deaths, what is clear is that we must be mindful of what we put into our bodies. And even if you think that a particular supplement is safe, never hesitate to seek medical attention if you suspect that you are experiencing a medical emergency.