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Beware of these supplements

There are a number of micronutrients your body does not produce on its own – such as vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 oils, therefore healthcare professionals will often prescribe them in the form of supplements, in order to meet or enhance your body’s daily requirements for optimum health.

However, many may not be safe for you, especially if you’re on certain medications or have some medical conditions. Next time you learn about an interesting supplement and think it may be ‘just what you need’, skip the risk and first visit your healthcare professional for a consultation.

Here are a few examples:

St. John’s Wort – Often taken for depression, anxiety, sleep trouble and muscle spasms, St. John’s Wort supplements may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and upset stomach, and can interact with heart medication and birth control pills. It may even make chemotherapy treatments less effective.

Arnica – It has been used for thousands of years topically to ease pain, swelling and aches on skin and muscles. It has also been taken internally to assist in constipation, however its consumption can raise blood pressure and cause irregular heartbeat, headaches, and shortness of breath. Some people may even be sensitive to applying it directly on skin.

Ginger – It’s delicious, and it has many benefits, including ease of nausea due to motion sickness, chemotherapy or surgery, and it may even treat inflammation and pain from arthritis and joint pain… but taken in high amounts, it can counteract with diabetic medication and blood thinners, causing blood clotting, increased blood pressure and heartbeat, and throw off blood sugar levels.

Aloe Vera – Its gel is amazing on a fresh burn or skin wounds, but taking it internally – which is said to improve digestion, relieve heartburn, increase collagen production, and reduce stomach ulcers – may cause issues for those with kidney problems and on diabetes medication.

Ginkgo Biloba – Often taken as a tea to improve memory, mental function, treat bladder infections, increase sexual energy, and said to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s and even cancer, Ginkgo is one of the most popular supplements sold today – and it can also thin out the blood, interact with blood thinners and anti-depressants, and cause bruising, headaches, and intestinal issues.

Ginseng – Another popular root, used for its delicious taste and many said health benefits, are not advisable for those taking antidepressants, and medication for blood pressure, diabetes, and heart medications. Otherwise, generally considered safe to increase energy, for sharper cognitive function, to treat colds and flus, and lower blood sugar.

Black Cohosh – If you’re a woman going through menopause, chances are your supplements contain this ingredient, as it’s often used against hot flashes, to treat PMS, and night sweats. But it should be avoided by those with liver problems and who’ve had cancer (especially breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers) as it’s said to lower estrogen levels in some parts of the body, but raise it in others.

Garlic – It has been used medicinally for centuries, both raw and cooked, and often prescribed as a supplement in order to contain its freshness and efficacy, and to reduce odour and taste. However, some people react to garlic in somewhat inconspicuous ways (headaches, unexplained fatigue, insomnia, digestive issues), while it may make others suffer with thinned blood, and heart issues. •

Don’t just buy the supplement... Always consult a health care professional first!

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