Many people use dietary supplements to boost their health and prevent disease. It is reported that up to 40% of adults use at least one over-the-counter dietary supplement daily and most of these people do not ask or inform their doctors about taking these supplements. Herbal and nonherbal health supplements are popular because some people believe it is easier to take these than to buy and prepare healthy meals, especially when they are busy with work or if quality foods are not easily available. To others, taking specific food supplements is a means to increase immunity to certain diseases, support bodybuilding, or achieve weight loss. Some health care providers recommend taking dietary ...view middle of the document...
According to Duffy MacKay, ND, Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, bodybuilding supplements contain steroids and steroid-like compounds that have been associated with liver injury. Weight-loss products which act as appetite suppressants such as N-nitroso fenfluramine have been associated with liver failure.
US Food and Drug Administration has previously advised consumers that dietary supplements containing kava (Piper methysticum) have the potential to cause severe liver injury. This herbal plnat from the South Pacific is traditionally used to prepare beverages. Kava or kava-kava supplements are used to promote relaxation, relieve stress, improve sleep and reduce menopausal symptoms. However, these benefits have not been confirmed by studies. On the other hand, some consumers from various countries who used a kava-containing supplement experienced liver injuries such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, as well as liver failure, for which some of them needed a liver transplant.
According to Dr. Andre Weill, another herbal supplement that can cause liver damage is black cohosh, which is used to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
Other dietary supplements that have been implicated in causing liver damage include cough and cold products, immune-boosters, and anti-depression or anti-anxiety products.
Overdosage of Dietary Supplements
There is no doubt that many nutritional supplements have numerous health benefits. These include vitamins like vitamin C and minerals such as calcium. However, when taken in large doses, fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K can accumulate in the liver and cause toxic side effects. For example, vitamin A, which promotes good vision, cell growth and body immunity is highly toxic to the liver when taken in excess (more than 3,000 mcg). Toxic daily doses of other fat soluble vitamins are as follows: vitamin D, 1,925 mcg or 77,000 IU, and vitamin E, 1,000 mg or 1,500 IU. Although high intake of vitamin K may make...