Supplements vs Medications Can Range From Prescription Pills To Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medicines Like Aspirin And Antacids
The market for vitamins, dietary Supplements vs Medications and other natural products is massive. But is there a difference between medicines and supplements? Medications are the drugs you receive from your doctor to treat your health conditions. They are regulated and have passed the standards of efficacy and safety set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are usually provided by doctors from primary care offices to specialists, hospitals and clinics.
Medications can range from prescription pills to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines like aspirin and antacids. They are usually manufactured in laboratories and have gone through extensive clinical trials. They can be used to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases or health conditions such as high blood pressure and a headache. Examples of pharmaceutical medicine are penicillin, ACE-inhibitors and GLP1s (a class of diabetes medications that came from the saliva of the Gila monster).
Vitamins and other dietary supplements are not considered medicines and they do not go through the same rigorous testing process as medication. They are sold by many different companies under a variety of names such as "immune boosters" and "maintaining a healthy immune system." Many of these supplements can be very harmful to your health. Often, they contain very little of the labeled ingredients and may also have chemicals that are harmful to certain people. Some have even been linked to serious illness and death.
While some supplement manufacturers do a good job of making their products under careful conditions and labeling them properly, there are others who don't. This means that it is possible to overdose on some vitamins and supplements. Too much of some nutrients can be toxic and can cause serious medical problems including bone loss, liver damage and birth defects. For example, too much vitamin A can reduce bone strength and lead to osteoporosis and too much iron can cause headaches, nausea and liver damage.
It is important to note that dietary supplements can interact with some medicines and therefore should be discussed with your doctor before taking. For instance, folic acid can interfere with some birth control pills and can also be harmful to pregnant women. The same goes for a number of other herbs and supplements. In fact, some of the most important medications have come from nature such as apricot kernel oil, which gave us aspirin, and the antibiotics penicillin, erythromycin and cloroxidine.
It is also important to remember that there are some naturally occurring substances that can be dangerous and have been found in some prescription drugs such as asbestos, cyanide, opium and ricin. While the FDA does regulate some supplements, it is illegal to remove a supplement from the market until there is clear proof that it poses a health threat. This makes it very difficult to remove supplements that have already caused harm. To be safe, always talk to your doctor before beginning any supplements and take a thorough list of your current medications with you to discuss.