What You Need to Know About Dietary Supplements
The most important thing to remember when thinking about supplements is that just because something is “natural” does not mean it is safe or can be taken without risk. Supplements may interact with prescription medications and cause serious problems. They can have side effects. They may also cause problems if they are taken in large amounts or mixed with other over-the-counter products.
Do not use any supplement before talking about it with your doctor. People who should use extra caution or completely avoid taking supplements include:
Supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as food products rather than drugs. Therefore they do not have to meet the same standards as prescription and over-the-counter medications for proof of safety, effectiveness, or dosage.
Published studies of supplements have found that some herbal supplements may contain different amounts of the active ingredients than their labels state. They may also contain harmful additives or contamination. Supplement labels might refer to the product’s quality being “standardized,” “certified,” or “verified.” There is no legal definition for these terms so they may not guarantee quality.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which occur naturally throughout the body, are currently being studied to determine their effectiveness in treating depression and bipolar disorder. These oils, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are found in shellfish, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon, canola oil, soybeans, flaxseed, walnuts, and wheat germ. They are also available in pill form. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve heart health, immune function and a variety of other conditions in some studies. In some clinical trials of people with depression or bipolar disorder, many people improved on high doses of Omega-3 oils. Mild stomach side effects were reported by people taking Omega-3.
Herbal supplements are made from plants. Their manufacturers claim that they treat many illnesses, including depression. However, not much research has been done to confirm their effectiveness. Two herbal supplements generally used for depression are
One of the most widely recognized herbal supplements for depression is
S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAM-e) was introduced in the
National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements , (301) 435-2920, http://www.ods.od.nih.gov/
National Institute of Mental Health, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/
National Library of Medicine, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/
Alternative Medicine Foundation, http://www.amfoundation.org/
HerbMed Database (Alternative Medicine Foundation), http://www.herbmed.org/
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