Why try to lose weight by eating fruits and vegetables,  running and lifting weights when you can opt for a dietary supplement instead? While weight loss pill commercials may look appealing and seem like an easy fix, they very well can do more harm to your body than good.

A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined visits from 63 different emergency rooms between 2004 and 2013 that were associated with dietary supplements. Researchers concluded that just over 23,000 emergency room department visits per year are attributed to the adverse effects caused by taking dietary supplements. Of those visits, just over 2,000 of them were serious enough to require patients to be hospitalized. Of the cases, many of the patients were aged 20 to 34 years, and the majority females.

Although 23,000 is a rather small percent, the real danger lies in the fact that many people who are taking these supplements are unaware of the adverse effects.

Under the FDA, dietary supplements are considered safe until proven to be unsafe. Dietary supplement manufacturers are not required to test the pills in clinical trials, therefore there is no opportunity to discover adverse effects or interactions before the product reaches consumers. Since dietary supplements are self-prescribed, there is no regulated way in which adverse reactions and effects are reported–doctors and patients can report problems, but are not necessarily required to do so.

Of the emergency room visits examined in this study, patients were treated for symptoms secondary to taking dietary supplements which included heart palpitations, chest pain, tachycardia (heart rate above 100), headache, dizziness, presyncope (light-headedness, muscular weakness, blurred vision), nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, allergic reactions, anxiety, seizures, syncope (temporary loss of consciousness) and loss of consciousness. Another danger is that people do not often tell their health care provider that they are taking these supplements–which can be problematic if they are prescribed to other medications that negatively interact with the supplement they are also on.

Eating healthy and exercising does not only affect the number on the scale, but offers many other health benefits, such as improved mood, decreased risk for disease…Many benefits that you cannot achieve from taking a weight loss pill.

The takeaway message here? Although taking a pill may seem like a promising, irresistible way to reach your weight loss goals, when it comes to dietary supplements, the risks outweigh the benefits. Reaching a weight loss goal can sometimes feel daunting, and a quick fix such as a weight loss pill may seem like the answer. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight require lifestyle changes that you must gradually adopt. Rather than harming your body with the potential side effects of dietary supplements, focus on making small changes at a time to your diet and exercise routine. Consider adding a Green Grotto juice to your daily diet. Over time, these changes will add up, and you will eventually see results.

Eating healthy and exercising does not only affect the number on the scale, but offers many other health benefits, such as improved mood, decreased risk for disease, improved sleep, higher energy levels–many benefits that you cannot achieve from taking a weight loss pill. If these benefits are not enough to convince you to consider proper diet and exercise to achieve your goal weight and you opt for taking a dietary supplement, we recommend that you consult your doctor prior to doing so. 

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