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The Dangers of Fiber Supplements

by
author image Tara Carson
Based in Richmond, Va., Tara Carson has written articles for editorial and corporate online and print publications for more than 10 years. She has experience as an adjunct professor of nutrition at Northwest Christian University and holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism and nutrition from Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Dangers of Fiber Supplements
Food is the best source of fiber, however, supplements are sometimes necessary to meet requirements. Photo Credit Poliuszko/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

The average American consumes 14 grams of dietary fiber per day, according to Colorado State University, which is less than half the recommended amount. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories, which means for a typical 2,500 calorie diet, a person should eat about 35 grams of fiber per day. Fiber supplements may help many Americans meet these dietary fiber requirements, but they should be aware there are health dangers associated with their consumption.

Fiber Supplements Can Cause Constipation

Most people think of fiber as a remedy for constipation. This is true; however, the opposite is also true. If a person takes fiber supplements, he must drink plenty of water. Otherwise the extra fiber can lodge in his intestines and cause terrible constipation, according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Fiber Supplements Can Deplete Minerals

Insoluble fiber can bind to minerals and deplete them from the body. Therefore, too much fiber from supplements can cause negative results. Calcium, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium are susceptible to being depleted from the body with fiber, according to Colorado State University.

Fiber Supplements Can Interfere With Medications

Fiber supplements and medications do not mix. Fiber supplements can bind to certain medications and pull them through the digestive tract, inhibiting their absorption into the bloodstream. Do not ingest a fiber supplement within a couple of hours of taking any medications.

Proper Fiber Supplement Intake

When taking fiber supplements, certain precautions are necessary. Be sure to take a supplement that has a high level of water-soluble fiber, such as psyllium. Beware of products that include sugar or artificial additives, according to the Cancer Centers of America. When adding fiber supplements to the diet, add them gradually. If they are added too quickly, uncomfortable gas and bloating can result. Additionally, fiber intake levels should be researched or discussed with a health practitioner because individual needs vary. For example, fiber requirements differ according to gender and age, reports Colorado State University.

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