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This is not an "answer" to an individual question, but a response generated from the many questions and comments I receive about supplements and side effects. I have now been writing these columns for over 10 years, and they now go to over 600 newspapers around the U.S. and Canada. As a nutrition scientist who is also a member of the press, I find myself constantly in the trenches, working on the border between scientific research and public understanding.
This is a period of rapid expansion in the supplement marketplace, with state-of-the-art marketing techniques making it difficult to discriminate between fact and fiction. Those who experiment with unproven remedies can experience unexpected and sometimes dangerous side effects. What do you do when this happens? The first thing is to stop taking the supplement, and, depending on the nature of the problem, contact your health professional. Another critical step, however, is to report your experience. I use the word "critical" because there is so much we don't know, and it will be years before the research catches up. Your experience can help others avoid the same pitfalls. It can also provide important clues for researchers attempting to tweak out the "when and why" of what works and what doesn't.
The Food and Drug Administration has a system designed to record adverse events. It's called MedWatch, and you can call them at 800-332-1088. You can also find information online at the MEDWATCH site -- Please understand that anything reported is held in complete confidence; it will not get back to your doctor or anyone else. If you have the misfortune of experiencing an adverse effect to a supplement or any medical product, I encourage you to make use of this service.
Ed Blonz, Ph.D.
Do you have a question that involves nutrition, health and wellness? Dr. Ed Blonz holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in nutrition, and has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of nutrition, foods and health. He is the author of eight books and writes the nationally syndicated column, "On Nutrition," available through Universal Press Syndicate.
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