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Jun 21, 2019 02:59 PM EDT

Dangers of Dietary Supplements

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(Photo : Bruno Glätsch)

Dietary supplements may contain hidden ingredients, according to a new study released by the JAMA Network Open. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking action against these companies. The ingredients found may be toxic, and a lot of dietary supplements promise health benefits that have not been proven.

The FDA has an existing policy which allows the agency to interfere when a supplement is proven unsafe or provides misleading claims.

Unapproved Dietary Supplement Ingredients

The study found that nearly 800 dietary supplements, all approved between 2007 and 2016, contained ingredients that were unapproved. Making matters worse, 20%, or over 150 supplements, contained more than one ingredient that was unapproved.

"In all, 97% of the dietary supplements that were found to contain unapproved ingredients did not have these ingredients listed on the label," explains Mainor Wirth Injury Lawyers.

With more than 50% of adults in the United States consuming dietary supplements, it's imperative that these undeclared ingredients be brought to the attention of consumers. The majority of the supplements that include additional ingredients were marketed as sexual enhancement products (353 out of 800).

Weight loss supplements accounted for 40.9% of the products that contain additional ingredients and 11.9% were products promoted for muscle building.

The issue is that even after warnings, these companies continue to sell and market their supplements. FDA warnings have done little to subdue the sales of the supplements.

Risks Associated with Dangerous Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements that contain additional ingredients have the potential to cause an array of health issues. The health issues that a person may suffer from as a result of these additional ingredients include:

  • Overuse
  • Accidental misuse
  • Interaction with additional medications

Consumers are urged to avoid supplements that may have additional ingredients included. Reformulation of products is common, and Hydroxycut is one prime example. A 29-year-old plumber decided to take the supplement in 2008 to lose five pounds.

Within a few weeks, he had acute hepatitis and jaundice that was a result of the supplement.

The FDA knew of complaints as early as 2002, but the company reformulated the product so often that it was difficult to tell which ingredients caused toxicity. As a consumer, it's important to try and locate claims of side effects due to supplements.

Hydroxycut was able to avoid trouble initially because even after the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was passed, it took 13 years before companies had to report severe side effects to the FDA.

Consumers must be cautious when taking dietary supplements that fall into the following categories: bodybuilding, weight loss and sexual enhancement. The FDA encourages users of these supplements to follow a healthy diet or visit their doctor before taking supplements.

USP Verification, which is listed on the supplement, is another great indicator of a pure product. The USP Verified mark means that the manufacturer has voluntarily asked for their product to be verified for purity, potency and ingredient verification.

Third-party verification is important when determining a product's purity. Consumers should research complaints against a product to better lower their risk of side effects or consuming products that have non-approved ingredients.

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