Can Your Health Supplements Harm You

Can Your Health Supplements Harm You?

Many of us have resorted to intake of health supplements, slimming agents or protein supplements to maintain our health. Can these agents which are marketed as “Herbal” or “Organic” harm us or our organs?

With increasing stress & sedentary lifestyle, with spending more time at work/seated in front of computer, we hardly find time to workout physically & maintain healthy lifestyle. Even those who work out regularly, be it yoga or running or lifting, try protein supplements to boost muscle growth. Our diet also has changed a lot & it includes lots of processed food, added sugars & canned food with lots of salt. This has led to increased incidence of obesity & associated diseases like diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia. And this is increasing across all age groups & economic classes.

Can these so called Herbal or Organic agents harm your liver & kidneys?

Liver is the first point of contact to metabolise the agents. Although liver has a vast capacity to regenerate in cases of injury, few cases of severe liver failure, leading to liver transplantation & deaths have been reported after intake of health supplements. The exact cause is uncertain, allergic reaction or contaminants can be the reason.

While health supplements may not directly cause kidney failure, contaminants in supplements like heavy metals, concomitant intake of pain killers can cause or worsen kidney failure. On the other side, those with pre-existing kidney failure should carefully consume these supplements, as these stuffs are rich in substances like protein, phosphorus, potassium which should be restricted in patients with kidney failure. Heavy intake of protein supplements with restricted water intake can also cause kidney stones.

In short, one should be very careful before starting health supplements or meal replacements. Consult your doctor, enquire your nutritionist well in advance. Double check your product, read the fine print & be watchful of the adverse effects.

Remember little Miss Muffett who sat on a tuffit, eating her curds and whey?

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Dr. Madhu Shankar Gunasekaran

Consultant Nephrologist, Renal transplant physician and hypertension specialist

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