Dietary supplements are now a $40-billion dollar a year industry. But some may not be as safe as they should be. 23,000 people a year wind up in an emergency room after taking a dietary supplement. Barry Levy joins us with more with the potential dangers of certain supplements.
If you’re like me you might have a bathroom cabinet full of these…vitamins, minerals and herbs to help supplement your diet., but a Consumer Reports investigation calls out 15 supplement ingredients being sold now that are potentially harmful.
Dietary supplements are easier to get than prescription drugs and they carry an aura of being more natural and safer.
A Consumer Reports survey finds 50 percent of Americans believe that supplement makers test their products for effectiveness. And 38 percent believe that they’ve been tested for safety by the food and drug administration.
“For the most part, supplement makers don’t have to prove that their products are safe. They don’t have to prove that they work as advertised. And they don’t have to prove that packages contain what the labels say that they do,” Jeneen interlandi, Consumer Reports Health Editor
Consumer reports has just released an investigation on supplements.
“Because the regulations are so weak, dietary supplements can be contaminated. They can be ineffective. They can be spiked with illegal or prescription drugs and they can have harmful side effects,” Jeneen Interlandi Consumer Reports
In response, the Council for Responsible Nutrition….representing supplement manufacturers….says that supplements are adequately regulated and the vast majority are safe. However, 15 supplement ingredients have been linked to serious health hazards and should be avoided.
For example, people use yohimbe for obesity, sexual dysfunction and depression….but….it can raise blood pressure and heart rate, cause headaches, panic attacks, seizures, liver and kidney problems, and possibly death.
Yet those 15 supplement ingredients are found in products sold by major retailers such as GNC, Costco, CVS, Walmart and Whole Foods. Consumer Reports believes the best way to protect the public is to have stronger regulation of supplements.
Many supplements can also interact in dangerous ways with prescription drugs. So you tell your doctor what supplements you’re taking now and before you start a new prescription.
15 Supplement Ingredients to Always Avoid
These supplement ingredients can cause organ damage, cardiac arrest, and cancer
With the help of an expert panel of independent doctors and dietary-supplement researchers, Consumer Reports identified 15 supplement ingredients that are potentially harmful. The risks include organ damage,cancer, and cardiac arrest. The severity of these threats often depends on such factors as pre-existing medical conditions as well as the quantity of the ingredient taken and the length of time a person has been exposed to the substance.
Many of the ingredients on this list also have the potential to interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications, such as cholesterol-lowering statins and blood-thinning drugs like aspirin and warfarin (Coumadin and generic).
Moreover, our experts agree that none of these supplement ingredients provide sufficient health benefits to justify the risk. Even so, we found all 15 ingredients in products available online or in major stores such as GNC, Costco, CVS, Walmart, and Whole Foods.
Also called: Aconiti tuber, aconitum, angustifolium, monkshood, radix aconti, wolfsbane
|Reduces inflammation, joint pain, gout||Nausea, vomiting, weakness, paralysis, breathing and heart problems, possibly death|
Also called: 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine
|Improves attention, enhances athletic performance, weight loss||Seizures, heart arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, possibly death; particularly dangerous when combined with other stimulants|
Also called: Creosote bush, greasewood, larrea divaricata, larrea tridentata, larreastat
|Weight loss; improves inflammation; treats colds, infections, skin rashes, cancer||Kidney problems, liver damage, possibly death|
Also called: Coughwort, farfarae folium leaf, foalswort, tussilago farfara
|Relieves cough, sore throat, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma||Liver damage, possible carcinogen|
Also called: Blackwort, bruisewort, slippery root, symphytum officinale
|Relieves cough, heavy menstrual periods, stomach problems, chest pain; treats cancer||Liver damage, cancer, possibly death|
Also called: Teucrium chamaedrys, viscidum
|Weight loss; alleviates fever, arthritis, gout, stomach problems||Liver damage, hepatitis, possibly death|
Also called: Celandine, chelidonium majus, chelidonii herba
|Alleviates stomachache||Liver damage|
|Green Tea Extract Powder
Also called: Camellia sinensis
|Weight loss||Dizziness, ringing in the ears, reduced absorption of iron; exacerbates anemia and glaucoma; elevates blood pressure and heart rate; liver damage; possibly death|
Also called: Ava pepper, kava kava, piper methysticum
|Reduces anxiety, improves insomnia||Liver damage,exacerbates Parkinson’s and depression, impairs driving, possibly death|
Also called: Asthma weed, lobelia inflata, vomit wort, wild tobacco
|Improves respiratory problems, aids smoking cessation||Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, rapid heartbeat, confusion, seizures, hypothermia, coma, possibly death|
Also called: Oxilofrine, p-hydroxyephedrine, oxyephedrine, 4-HMP
|Weight loss, increases energy, improves athletic performance||Causes heart rate and rhythm abnormalities, cardiac arrest; particularly risky when taken with other stimulants|
Also called: Hedeoma pulegioides, mentha pulegium
|Improves breathing problems, digestive disorders||Liver and kidney failure, nerve damage, convulsions, possibly death|
|Red Yeast Rice
Also called: Monascus purpureus
|Lowers LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, prevents heart disease||Kidney and muscle problems, liver problems, hair loss; can magnify effect of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, increasing the risk of side effects|
Also called: Beard moss, tree moss, usnea
|Weight loss, pain relief||Liver injury|
Also called: Johimbi, pausinystalia yohimbe, yohimbine, corynanthe johimbi
|Treats low libido and erectile dysfunction, depression, obesity||Raises blood pressure; causes rapid heart rate, headaches, seizures, liver and kidney problems, heart problems, panic attacks, possibly death|
If you or someone in your family experience an adverse event after taking a dietary supplement, report it to the FDA.