"...all doctors should be able to diagnose and treat nutritional deficiencies."

Royal College of Physicians. Nutrition and Patients: A Doctor's Responsibility. London 2002


This page has been printed from the www.stewartnutrition.co.uk web site.

What Determines the Safety of Nutritional Supplements?

The factors that determine the potential for harm resulting from use of a nutritional supplement fall into two categories:

  • Excessive Intake
     - acute toxicity due to a massive intake (very rare)
     - chronic toxicity due to a moderately excessive intake from supplements, food or water
        which causes no adverse effects in the short term
  • Predisposing Factors
     - increased  risk due to the individual’s consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
     - underlying disease especially liver or renal problems which limit the excretion of any
     - increasing age of the person altering the balance between benefit and risk
     - genetic factors that alter the metabolism of the nutrient
     - specific interactions with prescription or over-the-counter drugs
        the consumption of prescription drugs was identified as a risk factor for adverse
        reactions to nutritional supplements in a large telephone survey of US citizens
     - sensitivity to the nutrient resulting in an allergic reaction (very rare)

The majority of serious adverse reactions to nutritional supplements can be avoided if a little common sense and caution are used.

Adverse reactions to nutritional supplements that involve chronic toxicity can pass through a number of stages from adequacy to, rarely, death in a similar manner to the evolution of nutritional deficiencies.  Stages of increased intake, increase in tissue stores and then organ dysfunction are the corollary of the stages in the development of a nutritional deficiency [internal link]

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Copyright Dr. Alan Stewart M.B.B.S.M.R.C.P. (UK)M.F. Hom.
47 Priory Street, Lewes, East Sussex. BN7 1HJ
Tel 01273 487003 Fax: 01273 487576