Dietary Supplements: How Susceptible Are Teenagers to Risks?

dietary supplements

Learn if dietary supplements can adversely affect your teenager.

Vitamins and supplements are big business in the world of nutrition and healthy living. Nutritional supplements are taken by many Americans to treat or prevent all types of maladies, including poor eyesight, obesity, bone loss, etc. Many people believe that dietary supplements are essential to good health because we are not getting enough nutrition from the food we eat.

Vitamins and Supplements

There is truth and there is myth behind some of the advertising that touts nutritional supplements as a cure-all. And advertising addressed to younger generations like teenagers, will play upon the things that plague them like acne and obesity. Teenagers are vulnerable to advertising that paints a clear picture of how they should look and perform, and if they fall short of meeting these criteria, they can take dietary supplements to fix the problem in order to measure-up to the ideal image.

Products that promise smaller waistlines or bulky muscle mass are particularly risky for teenagers who may be desperate to fit-in with their peers. Another great risk is products that boost energy, such as energy drinks, energy bars or nutritional supplements that boost energy. These products often include ingredients like bee pollen, caffeine, sugar, ginseng, creatine and other ingredients that can be harmful if taken in large amounts or too often.

As a society, Americans are conditioned to look for quick “magic-bullet” cures by the massive amount of advertising we see on a daily basis. And the teenage population is just one target audience that retailers try to reach. Parents of teenage children should realize that using vitamins and supplements to lose or gain weight or build muscle mass is putting their children at great risk.

A recent study that was published by the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that teens were experiencing all types of health problems after taking dietary supplements. Some of the cases studied were reported to the Food and Drug Administration between the period of 2004 to 2015.

Of the 977 cases studied, 40 percent involved visits to hospital emergency rooms, hospitalization, disability, and death. The rest of the cases involved visits to doctor’s offices.

The study revealed that both vitamins and supplements were taken, but that the supplements were the cause of the health problems that arose. The study did not examine how the vitamins and supplements were taken, or the specific ingredients involved.

Flora Or, the study’s lead author, and researcher at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said, “Compared with vitamins, dietary supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building or an energy boost were associated with nearly triple the risk of serious health problems.

Click here to discover healthy snacking tips.

Nutritional Supplements

The study’s authors believe that there are two possible reasons why nutritional supplements caused harm. One reason is that the user was combining the supplements with other supplements or with prescription medications.

The second possible reason is that the supplements contained harmful ingredients that were not listed on the label. The authors also believe that many people do not realize that their adverse symptoms are being caused by dietary supplements, so those cases are not being reported to a doctor. The authors believe that the health problem is much larger than what the case study shows.

Earlier research studies have revealed that there is a connection between nutritional supplements that are used for weight loss, energy boosts, performance enhancement or muscle building, with health problems like: dehydration, seizures, stroke, chronic diarrhea, heart problems, and liver and kidney damage.

Creatine is a dangerous supplement that is popular with teenagers who want to build muscle. Creatine can cause dehydration, and possibly kidney or liver damage with long-term use, and should not be taken by anyone under the age of 18.

Click here for tips on how to limit screen time for kids.

The vitamins and supplements industry won’t change and the advertising won’t stop for now, so it is important that parents know the facts about the risks of teenagers taking supplements.

Learn more about how to keep you and your children healthy at

Follow us on Facebook for useful advice on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.