FDA warns of ‘dangerous’ supplement side effects – death and seizures

Dr Zoe reveals which supplements to take

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While some supplements like vitamin D during the winter months are a must, others might be a waste of money, many experts argue. They tend to put out the same message – don’t take supplements unless you really need them, for example, when you’re deficient in some vitamin. What’s worse, some supplements have been linked to very serious side effects.

Experiencing a boom in their popularity, the supplement industry has seen people spend around £440million on the little tablets in the UK.

From herbal products to vitamins, supplements are now commonly used by many.

However, studies and trials have revealed the dark side of the little nutrients in the form of risk-posing unwanted effects.

Don’t let the little pills fool you. They might look like the other medication you get from a pharmacy, but they are not regulated the same way as they fall under the food category.

One supplement, in particular, associated with severe side effects is caffeine pills or powder.

Characterised as a stimulant, these caffeine products are usually used to increase your alertness and energy when you feel drowsy.

While everyone has a slower day that requires an extra boost of coffee every now and then, sticking to the real thing might be a safer option.

FDA reported: “Pure and highly concentrated caffeine products present a significant public health threat and have contributed to at least two deaths in the United States.”

The full list of the side effects linked to the energy-boosters includes:

  • Death
  • Rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stupor (long or deep state of unresponsiveness)
  • Disorientation.

The health agency specifies that all of these can be symptoms of caffeine toxicity.

Compared to your usual cup of coffee or tea, pure and highly concentrated caffeine products are way more “potent”, which is why they can trigger these “serious” effects.


They explain that these dietary supplements can often be bought in bulk, with the packaging containing up to thousands of servings.

This usually requires the consumer to determine the safe dose “from what can be a toxic or even lethal amount” for themselves.

Furthermore, the FDA warns that the line between a safe and a toxic amount can be easily crossed.

This might leave you struggling to measure the right quantity with your usual kitchen tools.

To illustrate the amounts, a single teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine can pack the same amount of caffeine as you find in 28 cups of coffee.

While a half cup of a liquid highly concentrated caffeine product contains the equivalent of more than 20 cups. 

“These are toxic amounts that can have serious health consequences,” the FDA added.

If you experience any serious side effects when taking caffeine supplements, you should seek medical help or call 111 for advice.

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