Friday, August 3, 2012

Consumer Reports advises caution with vitamins and supplements

In its current issue, Consumer Reports has a story titled “10 surprising dangers of vitamins and supplements” with the subheading “Don't assume they're safe because they're 'all natural'.” Good reading--I know a lot of people take various supplements in the belief that they will help with eczema.

If you’re a reasonable person, there’s nothing to worry about. A few points jumped out at me though.
  • Dietary supplements can be “spiked with prescription drugs” which can cause side effects and interactions that many people are buying supplements to avoid.
  • You need to be careful when buying herbal therapies—CR’s reporter went to a number of traditional Hispanic herbaries and “none [of the “healers”] volunteered relevant facts about possible side effects or the risky interactions that can occur when an herb is taken with a medication.” This would also be true for traditional Chinese medicine, I expect.
  • And it’s possible to overdose on vitamins. For patients with eczema, vitamin D is the current fad, and I have heard of people taking regular megadoses—way over the recommended limit. The thing is, just because the recommended limit is 4000 IU (whatever an IU is) doesn’t mean that you can take a supplement of 4000 IU. You have to consider all the sources you’re getting vitamin D from, including fortified dairy and sunlight. CR describes, for calcium, how it’s surprisingly easy to go over the limit.
I’m on vacation for the next two weeks. So I won’t be posting until late August. Currently I’m stressing about packing all the moisturizers, steroids, shampoo etc. that I need and won’t be able to get at my destination. And cursing the TSA regulations and all the terrorists who’ve made it impossible to bring my “toiletries” in my carry-on bag. Up yours, Al Qaeda! May you be cursed with eczema and enjoy a thousand itch-filled nights.


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