Safety Of Nutritional Supplements: Part 1

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on July 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Throughout this book (Bionutrition, Ray D. Strand, MD, ) I related the medical evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of #NutritionalSupplements in preventing and/or slowing the progression of #ChronicDegenerativeDiseases . However, for these supplements to be effective for this purpose they must be taken for a lifetime and they must be safe. Every time physicians prescribe a medication, especially if it is for the treatment of a #ChronicIllness, we explain to the patient the potential danger for the use of that drug. It amazes me how many physicians try to get patients to quit taking their nutritional supplements because they could be dangerous to their health. In my book Death by Prescription (Thomas Nelson 2003), I document the fact that #AdverseDrugReactions are the third leading #CauseOfDeath in the United states and Canada. There are more than 180,000 deaths every year due to adverse drug reactions. This is just behind #HeartDisease ) and #cancer and just ahead of #stroke on the list 0f the top ten CausesOfDeath in the United States; however, you will never see this listed in any report as a cause of death. According to Dr. Bruce Pomeranz, as reported in the April 15, 1998 Journal of the American Medical Association, medications that have been properly prescribed cause more than 100,000 deaths a year. There are another 80,000 deaths every year due to improperly prescribed medications, which brings the total of deaths due to medications to 180,000 every year. Dr. Pomeranz also states that another 2.1 million patients have serious complications because of medications.


It bothers me when the media and medical community try to discourage individuals from taking nutritional supplements because they may actually cause harm and increase your risk of death. This even becomes more ironic when the alternative the medical community has to offer is for you to be taking more drugs, instead of supplements.  This has to be the height of arrogance, when we know that drugs are the third leading cause of death in this country. There have only been a handful of deaths reported in the last decade due to nutritional supplements. The most commonly reported were the deaths of individuals who were taking very high doses of niacin, which had been prescribed by physicians as a treatment for elevated #cholesterol. These individuals took many times the optimal levels recommended in this book in an attempt to create a #pharmacological effect.


Recently, there has been a lot of publicity regarding deaths due to an herb called #ephedra. Ephedra has been used in a large number of #overTheCounter #DietPills. However, you have to realize that ephedra is an herb or natural drug that has a #pharmaceutical effect - it is not a nutritional supplement. Nutritional supplements are simply nutrients we get from our foods, at levels we cannot obtain from our foods.

When you understand the safety of these nutrients, you will begin to realize why vitamin and mineral supplements are ideal products to be used for #ChemoPrevention and for reducing the risk of chronic degenerative diseases. #Pharmaceutical drugs may possess some #ClinicalBenefit in preventing some of these diseases, but they inherently create a risk to the patient. So let's look at some specific adverse reactions that have been reported about nutritional supplementation.

Vitamin A (#vitamina )

Of all the nutritional supplements, straight vitamin A causes the most concern. Vitamin A #toxicity can occur in adults who take in excess of 50,000 IU per day for a prolonged period of time. A lower dose may create toxicity if the patient has underlying liver disease. Signs of vitamin A toxicity include dry skin, brittle nails, hair loss, gingivitis, anorexia, nausea, fatigue, and irritability. Accidental ingestion of a single large dose of vitamin A by children (100,000 to 300,000 IU) can cause acute toxicity. This may present as #headache, #vomiting, and #stupor because of the increase in #IntracranialPressure .  Women must avoid vitamin A supplementation during #pregnancy.  Dosages as low as 5,000 to 10,000 IU are believed to have caused birth  defects." I do not recommend taking straight vitamin A in supplementation. The need for vitamin A within the body may be met by simply taking #beta-carotene and the mixed #carotenoids. These are very safe and the body is able to turn these into vitamin A as the body needs it. 


Beta-carotene has been used in high doses over several years without a single reported adverse effect. Some individuals develop a yellowing of the skin called #carotenodermia. However, this is totally benign and reverses completely once the beta-carotene is reduced or discontinued. A recent study called the #Alpha-Tocopherol #Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study conducted in Finland and a similar study in Washington State showed significant increased risk of developing lung cancer in a group taking beta-carotene alone. This was not observed in patients who took vitamin E alone or those who took beta-carotene with vitamin E.   These studies involved males aged 50 to 69 who had been heavy smokers for more than a 36-year period. This study has received great media coverage and has caught the attention of many physicians. This study will be discussed in detail in Safety of Nutritional Supplements: Part 2.

Vitamin E

Although #vitaminE is a #fat-soluble vitamin, it has a tremendous safety record. In clinical trials of vitamin supplementation as high as 3,200 IU per day has not shown any adverse effects. Vitamin E has been shown to inhibit #PlateletAggregation in much the same way as aspirin does." This property of vitamin E is actually a benefit in reducing heart disease rather than a concern. Some researchers believe this will actually improve the effectiveness of #aspirin in patients with heart disease.

Vitamin C

#VitaminC is safe even at very high doses, although some people may have #AbdominalBloating, gas, or #diarrhea. At one point, there was a concern vitamin C supplementation might increase the risk of #KidneyStones. This was seen in only one clinical trial, however, and the last four similar trials did not substantiate those findings.

Vitamin D

#VitaminD has previously been thought to have a great potential to cause toxicity. However, we are now realizing the greatest concern to our health is #VitaminDDeficiency. The recommended amount of vitamin D has been rising steadily over the past decade. With the advent of inexpensive vitamin D blood tests called a #25-hydroxyvitaminDLevel, physicians are beginning to realize the extent of vitamin D deficiency. Most physicians are now recommending supplementing at least 1,000 to 1,200 IU of vitamin D daily if your vitamin D level is above 50 ng/ rnl. If it is low, you may take very high doses of vitamin D without any fear of toxicity. However, it is important that this is prescribed by your physician and that there are follow-up blood tests. Although I have not seen vitamin D blood levels above 100 ng/ml in all of the testing of my patients, vitamin D toxicity may increase the blood levels of calcium, cause deposits of calcium in internal organs, and increase the risk of kidney stones."

Niacin (#VitaminB3)

#Niacin supplementation may create flushing to the skin, nausea, and liver damage. Clinical studies have shown slow-release products of niacin may decrease the risk of flushing, but they also increase the risk of liver damage. Many people use high doses of niacin as a natural way to decrease their cholesterol levels. I recommend slowly building up to 1.5 grams per day. It is best to be under the direction of your physician and have your liver function checked periodically. There are some very effective drugs that may be used to lower your cholesterol. Depending on the level and ratio of your cholesterol, your physician can advise you on the best approach.

Vitamin B6 (#Pyridoxine)

#VitaminB6 is one of the few water-soluble vitamins with a possible risk of toxicity. Doses greater than 2,000 mg can cause symptoms of nerve toxicity. When using doses between 50 to 100 mg daily, there have not been any reported cases of toxicity" 

Folic Acid

#FolicAcid supplementation may mask an underlying vitamin B12 deficiency. Therefore, you should always take vitamin 812 supplements when you are taking folic acid. When you follow my concept of cellular nutrition, you will not have to worry about an underlying 812 deficiency.


#Choline is generally well tolerated, although at very high doses (20 grams per day) it can create a fishy odor and cause some nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.


Calcium supplements are tolerated in doses up to 2,000 mg. It was once thought high levels of calcium supplementation could lead to increase in kidney stones; however, several recent studies actually show that the higher your intake of calcium is, the lower your risk of developing kidney stones,"


#Iodine supplementation greater than 750 mcg can suppress thyroid hormone secretion. There have also been reports of acne-like skin eruptions at these higher levels of iodine intake.


There has been an increased concern about the use of #iron in supplementation. The use of inorganic iron is even more of a concern. Americans generally get plenty of iron and supplementation of this nutrient may create an iron overload, which has been associated with increased risk of heart disease in males. There is some concern iron may actually increase oxidative stress.


#Manganese taken in supplementation is very safe, although there are reports of people who develop manganese toxicity from their environment. This is usually seen in those who mine manganese or are exposed to high levels in the environment. These individuals may begin to hallucinate and become very irritable.


Molybdenum is quite safe. A daily intake of greater than 10 to 15 mg, however, may lead to gout-like symptoms.


#Selenium has been found to be safe in several clinical trials, which used doses in the range of 400 to 500 mcg daily. I believe, however, doses of selenium supplementation should be less than 300 mcg daily. Symptoms of selenium toxicity include depression, irritability, nausea, vomiting, and hair loss. There have been no toxic effects associated with supplementation of #VitaminK, #VitaminB1 (#thiamin), #VitaminB2 (#riboflavin), #biotin, #VitaminB5 (#pantethine), #inositol, #VitaminB12, #chromium, #silicon, #CoQ10, #boron, #GrapeSeedExtract, and #alpha-lipoicAcid.


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