7 Popular Supplements With Potential Hidden Risks

When it comes to supplements, there’s so much hype about their potential benefits that it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. While it’s true that vitamins and minerals are essential to health, it’s not true that taking them in pill, capsule, or powder form — especially in megadoses — is necessary or without risks.

For one thing, dietary supplements can sometimes interact with each other, as well as with over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medication. In addition, unlike with drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not authorized to review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. It’s up to manufacturers to ensure that their products do not contain contaminants or impurities, are properly labeled, and contain what they claim. In other words, the regulation of dietary supplements is much less strict than it is for prescription or OTC drugs.

In March 2023, the FDA unveiled its new Dietary Supplement Ingredient Directory, a web page intended to help the public stay informed about the ingredients used in dietary supplements. Consumers can use the directory to look up ingredients used in products marketed as dietary supplements and find out what the FDA has said about that ingredient and whether the agency has taken any action pertaining to the ingredient.

According to the FDA, more than half of Americans take herbal or dietary supplements daily, with a report by Grandview Research noting the dietary supplements market was valued at $151.9 billion worldwide in 2021.