Many people think of dietary supplements as a completely different category from prescription drugs, and as such don’t think about the complexities of them. A new initiative aims to change that idea. On June 2, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration launched the website Supplement Your Knowledge as part of a plan to make information on dietary supplements more accessible to every citizen.
It features different sections for healthcare providers, teachers, and consumers. Within each section, the administration has included resources like fact sheets, videos, and links to other agencies’ resources.
According to the release, over half of Americans use dietary supplements. Whether it’s to replace nutritional deficiencies, to get over a sickness, or to bolster general wellness, there are many reasons someone may begin taking these pills daily. Sometimes, it’s on a doctor’s recommendation.
However, some daily vitamins may interact with other medications and cause dangerous side effects.
Two thirds of people taking dietary supplements while already using prescription drugs don’t tell their doctor about it, according to results from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey.
“Dietary supplements can be valuable to your health but taking some supplements can also involve health risks,” said Douglas Stearn, deputy director for Regulatory Affairs in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
For example, St. John’s Wort is commonly used to address depression. But, if taken in tandem with other common medications such as birth control pills, it can cause the medication to digest faster. This means the person could become pregnant.
This FDA initiative aims to educate consumers on the safety of taking certain supplements alongside their daily routine. The FDA cautions all supplement users to carefully monitor their use and talk to doctors before they begin a new regimen.
If you see any odd side effects, stop taking your supplement immediately, and report adverse reactions to the FDA’s Safety Reporting Portal.