A survey of consumer reports confirms what many experts have been warning for years: so-called over-the-counter “natural” supplements can land you in the emergency room. “So right now the FDA is completely overwhelmed,” says Pieter Cohen, MD. “We don’t even know how many products there are. It’s estimated that there are over 75,000 different dietary supplements on the market. There’s no way the FDA can even control what’s out there, let alone which ones are out there. these are dangerous.” Read on and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure signs that you have already had COVID.
Vitamins and minerals can make you sick if you take too much, no matter how “natural” or “organic” the ingredients are. “It doesn’t make sense to me to take huge doses of vitamins and minerals unless there is a diagnosed problem because there is so little evidence that they do any good and sometimes a possibility that they might do harm”, says Marion Nestle, MPH, Ph.D., professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University.
Some supplements may actually contain prescription drugs, especially supplements for sexual enhancement and weight loss, the report reveals. “A number of spiked sexual enhancement products claim to work in 20-45 minutes,” says Daniel Fabricator, PhD., director of the FDA’s Dietary Supplement Programs Division. “When we see a product that makes claims beyond what a dietary supplement might do – beyond health support – and within minutes, it alerts us that we might have a doped product.”
Unless it is an iron supplement, warning labels on supplements are inconsistent and unreliable (FDA does not require warning labels). “Some companies are being overly cautious, and it’s certainly their right to do so,” says Steve Mister, President and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a leading trade group. “Other companies say, you know what, I’m not going to warn about possible things that I don’t think are of serious concern to my consumers.”
Despite what the label says, supplements cannot prevent disease. “In fact, it is illegal for companies to claim that supplements will treat, diagnose, prevent or cure disease,” says Jeffrey Millstein, MD. “Supplements may interact with other medications you take or pose risks if you have certain medical conditions, such as liver disease, or are going to have surgery. Some supplements have also not been tested in pregnant women, nursing mothers or children, and you may need to take extra precautions.”
The survey also highlighted the danger of buying supplements from neighborhood botánicas, as people have no idea what they might be buying. “These markets should not be isolated, but neither should they be exempted from meeting the same standards demanded by other herbal and dietary supplement suppliers,” says Tieraona Low Dog, MD
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer passionate about making science and research-based information accessible to the general public. Read more