Supplements: Pharmacist issues warning when they can be ‘dangerous and make you ill’

This Morning: Dr Michael Mosley discusses vitamin D dosage

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This is why it’s very important you talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you start to take any form of medication, Hussain Abdeh, Clinical Director and Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct, told As an example, he said: “The herbal remedy St. John’s Wort can be used to treat problems like anxiety and milder forms of depression. However, it can interact with several medicines that are prescribed for a range of different conditions.

“Taking St. John’s Wort at the same time as other medicines could make the medication less effective; this includes medicines prescribed for HIV or AIDS and birth control.”

He continued: “Proof that multivitamins are good for you is still waiting to be completely confirmed. Some studies have shown that multivitamins do next to nothing to prevent cancer or cardiovascular disease.

“Unfortunately, many people take this type of supplement as a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet.

“However, taking any kind of supplement cannot replace the goodness that comes from eating fresh fish, fruit and vegetables.

“You should never take multivitamins instead of eating properly. If you find that you have a vitamin deficiency, you should see if this can be reversed through a healthier diet.”

So what are the first steps you should take when considering taking supplements?

The first step is to see if you actually need to take supplements.

Mr Abdeh said: “Review your usual diet and see if there is anything you know you should probably be getting more of, such as vitamin C. Before you start taking supplements, you should see about altering your diet to make it more varied and healthy.

“Assess your symptoms, if you have any, and do your research into why these could be occurring. Could they be signs of a vitamin deficiency?

“The most important thing to do when considering taking supplements is to speak to your doctor about it. Taking supplements when you do not need them can be dangerous and make you ill.

“There is even evidence to suggest that taking some supplements unnecessarily can lead to cancer. Your doctor should advise you as to whether you need to take any supplements

“Supplements and herbal remedies can interact with medication, so if you are taking any medicine for any condition, it is important to tell your doctor.”

One supplement some people should consider taking during the winter is vitamin D.

Vitamin D can sometimes be hard to come by naturally in the winter months.

It’s sourced from our diet by eating foods such as fish, mushrooms and egg yolks, but a lot of the vitamin D we take in also comes from the sun’s UVB rays.

Mr Abdeh explained: “In the winter months, the amount of UVB that manages to penetrate the atmosphere is much lower than it is during the warmer part of the year, especially in the UK where the sun can be hard enough to come by as it is.

“Therefore, taking vitamin D supplements in the winter can help to make sure we are absorbing enough of this vitamin, which can help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, help the body to absorb calcium and strengthen our bones.”

Other supplements people should consider taking for general health include fish oil, said Mr Abdeh.

“Fish oil supplements can be beneficial for our general health by helping to give the body essential omega-3 fatty acids.

“These acids help to regulate inflammation and cannot be obtained from anywhere other than eating fish or taking supplements.

“Having enough omega-3 is beneficial for the health of our respiratory system, cardiovascular system, immune system and our musculoskeletal health.

“Furthermore, taking fish oil supplements can help with keeping blood pressure at a healthy level and aid in keeping people at a healthy weight. They also work to aid in the health of our muscles and joints.”

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