supplements naturalHave you seen the recent sensational headlines about natural supplements sending people to emergency rooms in staggering numbers?

They certainly caught our attention. So we read more.

Sure enough more than 23,000 emergency room visits are caused by supplements every single year.

The headlines definitely had our attention. So we read more.

They certainly got us to read their articles, I’ll concede that point and give them credit for it.

But I’m also glad that I took the time to read the information presented and didn’t just take the headline at face value.

Because

While 23,000 emergency room visits sounds like an enormous number – and let’s be honest, one is already too many – more than 150 million people take supplements every day.

Which means only .015% of people who take natural supplements end up in the emergency room every year.

And the researchers of the study even admit that these visits make up less than 5% of emergency room visits caused by drug products.

Still

We take your health and safety seriously. As we said, one supplement-related emergency room visit is too many. So we read even more.

As it turns out, the majority of those emergency room visits were caused by people between the ages of 20 and 34, taking energy and weight loss supplements – and taking them incorrectly.

Most of these young people, apparently, decided that if some worked well, more would work better. Which lead to side effects, poor reactions, and visits to the emergency room.

Another 20% of emergency room visits were caused by children finding adults’ unsecured supplements, and taking them.

Among adults age 65 and over? The main cause for an emergency room visit was difficulty swallowing – which can become a problem for people taking any type of pill, not just supplements.

So

We want to alleviate any concerns about natural supplements those other headlines might have given you, and we also want to reiterate some smart, general guidelines.

• Recommended doses are there for a reason. Read your labels, and follow the directions on the bottle. There is no product on the market – prescription, over-the-counter, or natural supplement – that is so safe you can overdose on it and not have side effects.

• Double-check the ingredients label for allergens. If you have hay fever or any other allergy, make sure the natural supplement you’re considering isn’t part of that family.

• Talk to your doctor about every product you take. Even natural supplements can have interactions with prescription medications. Your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider can keep you from taking the wrong combinations. They can also help identify potential allergic reactions, as well!

• Keep your supplements secured if you have children around. Just like other medications, children respond to supplements differently than adults do. Products that are perfectly safe for you when used as directed could be harmful to your grandchildren – even if they take less than a recommended adult dose. Plus, remember, children tend to think that pills look like candy, so supplements can be appealing to them.

• If you develop problems swallowing pills, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. There are numerous options available. Some pills may be available in a smaller size. Some may be suitable for cutting in half. And there are ways to make swallowing pills easier, too.

We admit it – those headlines were startling. But this is why it’s important to keep reading, to get beyond the headlines, and to do your own research.

Because the truth about the safety of natural supplements wasn’t in the headlines. The truth is in the paragraphs, and in the products themselves.