Beware of Supplements Harmful to the Liver
Last updated: August 2022
Supplements are not regulated in the U.S. and have not gone through strict clinical trial studies that are necessary for determining their safety. Many supplements make false claims without adequately verifying the correct amount of ingredients they list on their product and its safety.1
Be cautious of taking supplements
Consumers can become victims of false claims while damaging their liver and other organs.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) cannot test all products for safety. Still, they reported finding nearly 300 fraudulent products that promote “weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding-that contain hidden or deceptively labeled ingredients.2
Dr. Michael Levy, director of the FDA’s Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance, states, “These products are masquerading as dietary supplements, but are not legal dietary supplements. Some of these products contain hidden prescription ingredients at levels much higher than those found in an approved drug product and are dangerous.”2
The FDA has discovered other compounds, including novel synthetic steroids, that do not qualify as dietary ingredients. In addition, reports of harm associated with these products include stroke, liver injury, kidney failure, heart palpitations, and death.2
What are the symptoms of liver damage due to supplements?
- Elevated liver enzymes
- Not feeling well
- Jaundice (not always present)
- Nausea (not always present)
The patient can often mistake general unwell symptoms for something else like flu or feeling run down.1
Liver damage is often silent without any symptoms occurring until later. Do not assume that what you are taking is safe and not harmful because you do not have symptoms.
What can you do to take care of your liver?
See a liver specialist like a hepatologist, gastroenterologist, or infectious disease physician. These doctors specialize in the disease and conditions of the liver. They will know more about what is harmful and safe for your liver.
Before taking them, talk to your doctor about all supplements, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and prescriptions. Ask what is safe for your liver and medical condition.
Stop taking supplements immediately if you feel bad. See your doctor for blood tests and an examination. Take the supplement and any product information to your doctor.