Supplements: Helpful or Harmful? Learn to Recognize the Difference

Americans’ spend 10’s of billions of dollars each year on dietary supplements.  Often, supplements are purchased based on exaggerated marketing claims made by the supplement manufacturers.  Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that the supplement industry is not regulated and that manufacturers do not have to prove that there is research to support the claims that they make or even that the product is safe.  To make matters worse, not all of the products even contain all of the ingredients listed on the label and they may contain some ingredients that aren’t listed.  So, you really don’t know what you are getting.

Many times the word “natural” is associated with being safe, but this can be far from true.   In fact, many “all natural” supplements have been pulled from the market after people have had very serious side effects, such as kidney failure, stroke and even death.  Some “dietary supplements” even contain “hidden prescription ingredients at levels much higher than those found in approved drugs”.  Unfortunately, supplements usually only get taken off the market after they have been proven to cause harm which is too late for some.

There are three categories of supplements that tend to be the most dangerous and fraudulent, and those are supplements promoted for:

1.       Weight loss- more than 40 products have been recalled

2.       Bodybuilding- more than 80 products have been recalled

3.       Sexual enhancement- more than 70 products have been recalled

For Advice on what to look for before purchasing supplements and potential warning signs, see the FDA’s article entitled “Beware of Fraudulent Dietary Supplements”.

I have also provided links here if you would like to receive the latest news on tainted products from the FDA via e-mail, widget or RSS Feed.  Because suplements can have so many side effects, remember to always discuss all supplements with your doctor before starting them.