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Check with your doctor before taking traditional herbs, and make sure you know what they are and where they come from. Instead of attempting any more outright bans, the agency issued warnings, detained imported products, and asked companies to recall products it considered unsafe. Few people in the U.S. are outright deficient in vitamin A. “These markets should not be singled out, but they also should not be exempt from meeting the same standards required by other purveyors of herbal and dietary supplements,” says Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., a clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and fellowship director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Even helpful products can be harmful in some situations, such as when you're pregnant or nursing, have a chronic disease, or are about to have elective surgery. But when Consumer Reports sent a Spanish-speaking reporter on a shopping trip to several New York-area botánicas in 2011, he came away with incomplete information and bags of mystery herbs. If your doctor says you need more of a specific nutrient than you can get from food (or sun exposure, in the case of vitamin D), a single-ingredient pill may be sufficient. Likely effective for reducing symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Read and be warned. And in some cases, they deliberately contain ingredients that can cause cancer, organ damage, cardiac arrest, and other serious health problems. So there are hundreds of supplements to avoid, including many that are useless, mislabeled, contaminated, or adulterated with pharmaceuticals. August 2, 2012 — Consumer Reports has published a critical investigation of dietary supplements. For instance, last year the agency noted seven reports of serious health problems regarding consumers who took Soladek vitamin solution, marketed by Indo Pharma of the Dominican Republic. Dangers listed are not meant to be all-inclusive. GI symptoms, dry mouth, headache, mild insomnia, anorexia, sweating, dizziness, and nervousness, especially at higher doses. But true cases of choking, in which a pill actually goes down the windpipe instead of the esophagus, probably happen infrequently, says Joel Blumin, M.D., incoming chairman of the Airway and Swallowing Committee of the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery. Choking as a serious symptom showed up surprisingly often in the database we analyzed of problem reports to the FDA in the last five years, with more than 900 mentions. Possible dangers linked with its ephedrine alkaloids banned by the FDA in 2004. Consumer Reports also has concerns, because like any supplement, Kratom is not regulated. An attorney representing the defendants said they intended to contest the claims. Calcium can decrease the effectiveness of certain antibiotics, osteoporosis drugs, and thyroid drugs. Too much retinol can cause birth defects and liver abnormalities, and might harm bones. Research supplements at reliable government sites such as the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. B vitamins. All I can say is Yay! Consult your doctor or pharmacist. After looking at 233 products, all purchased online or in stores in the New York City metropolitan area in the spring of 2012, we can report that the only thing consistent about the labels is their lack of consistency. Likely unsafe. “We’d like to see those things go away,” Fabricant says. Omega-3 fish oil. Dangers of Dietary Supplements: A Closer Look Researchers from Consumer Reports worked with experts from the Natural Medicines Comprehensive … In March 2008 the distributor voluntarily recalled the products involved. “Aside from vitamins and minerals, we’ve found very few where there’s adequate evidence the supplement would … In May 2009, by which point Parke's liver was already damaged, the agency warned consumers to stop using Hydroxycut, and the manufacturer, Iovate Health Sciences, voluntarily recalled some of its products, its attorney said. But the FDA is … The lack of oversight leaves consumers like John Coolidge, 55, of Signal Mountain, Tenn., vulnerable. Over the past decade, the FDA’s regulatory partner, the Federal Trade Commission, which monitors dietary-supplement advertising, has brought more than 100 legal challenges to claims about the effectiveness of supplements. Might increase the effect of blood-thinning drugs and high blood pressure medications. The FDA has yet to inspect a single factory there. Build muscles by weight training. We have identified a dozen supplement ingredients that we think consumers should avoid because of health risks, including cardiovascular, liver, and kidney problems. "Any given Kratom product can be grossly mislabeled. The company had frequently reformulated the product, according to the FDA, which said it didn't know which ingredients produced the liver toxicity. In 2009, we spent $26.7 billion on them, according to the Nutrition Business Journal, a trade publication. Toxicity, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, respiratory-system paralysis, heart-rhythm disorders, death. It said the ingredient lacked safety evidence and warned that synthetically produced DMAA was not a dietary ingredient at all. Report problems. Vitamin C can enhance iron absorption, so avoid high doses if you have hemochromatosis, a condition in which the body absorbs and stores too much iron. And FDA rules covering manufacturing quality don't apply to the companies that supply herbs, vitamins, and other raw ingredients. The reports by themselves don’t prove the supplements caused the problems, but the raw numbers are cause for some concern. Indeed, 14 percent of people 55 and older use them, according to a recent survey from the … Such claims are off-limits to supplements, according to the FDA. The latest blow against calcium supplements was a report by German and Swiss researchers who followed almost 24,000 adults for an average of 11 years. Robert Houser. “Vitamins can be synthetic because, by definition, a vitamin doesn’t have to come from nature,” says Fabricant at the FDA. Energy supplements can cause elevated heart rate and other cardiovascular problems, anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems, and dehydration. FDA, Deciding When It's Time to Upgrade Your Child's Car Seat, The National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements, dietary supplements and natural health products information. Hazardous ingredients have been known to turn up in dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, bodybuilding, and sexual enhancement. As a consumer and nutrition enthusiast herself, Dawn Cohen has dedicated the past 7 years of her life to tracking down the safest and most effective supplements and brands. August 2, 2012 — Consumer Reports has published a critical investigation of dietary supplements. The Meticore supplement … We went shopping to see what warnings, if any, we would find on labels from 14 varieties of supplements. The FDA warned in 1993 that reports of serious adverse events were under investigation. To date, it has banned only one ingredient, ephedrine alkaloids. In April 2012, the agency sent warning letters to 10 manufacturers and distributors of products containing dimethylamylamine (DMAA), often touted as a natural stimulant. A new investigation may have you rethinking some of your vitamins. Far from reducing cancer risk, as a lot of people believe, high doses of some antioxidant supplements may actually increase it, evidence suggests. Hydroxycut has been reformulated and is on the market again. Consumer Reports believes the best way to protect the public is to have stronger federal regulation of supplements. Unsafe. Gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea. Need further assistance? Any given Kratom product can be grossly mislabeled. Fishy aftertaste, upset stomach, nausea, loose stools. Plant-derived supplements make many health enhancement claims, and yet the market is largely unregulated, says a new article published in Consumer Reports (CR). Likely unsafe. Why not simply order a problem product off the market? If you’re unsure about your vitamin D status, ask your doctor about having a blood test. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), it is difficult for the FDA to put together strong enough evidence to order products off the market. The FDA has warned about at least eight of them, some as long ago as 1993. Banned in Germany, Canada, and Switzerland. They just have to perform the biological activity of vitamins, he added, whereas a “botanical” means that it was alive at some point. Most supplements haven't been studied in pregnant or nursing women. A vitamin E overdose may increase a person's risk of bleeding, especially for those taking blood-thinning medication, according to Consumer Reports. Your doctor or pharmacist can steer you away from such problems only if they know what supplements you're taking or plan to take. “That sensation feels like choking,” he says, but it isn’t. People with persistent swallowing problems can switch to liquid or chewable formulations and should probably seek evaluation by an otolaryngologist. It's against the law for companies to claim that any supplement can prevent, treat, or cure any disease except some nutrient-deficiency conditions. Coughing, bronchitis, asthma, smoking cessation (possibly ineffective). It reached a $7.5 million settlement with the QVC home-shopping channel. Consumer Reports also has concerns, because like any supplement, Kratom is not regulated. "It just tore me up," he said. Once again, mainstream media has jumped on a story warning against the dangers of dietary supplements, and some of the facts are being misrepresented. Some people may experience adverse effects from too much calcium or iron. And close to 12 percent have been linked to safety concerns or problems with product quality. Multivitamins. Effective as a bulk laxative for reducing constipation or softening stools. Don't assume more is better. Likely effective in combination with vitamin D in preventing and treating bone loss and osteoporosis. While it’s known that St. John’s wort can reduce the effectiveness of certain prescription drugs, including birth-control pills and blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), only two of the 17 samples of it we purchased warned explicitly about those hazards. Most people get plenty through their diet. Consumer Reports outlines in a extensive report how producers of dietary supplements face little regulation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and why that can be dangerous … Symptoms included signs of heart, kidney, or liver problems, aches, allergic reactions, fatigue, nausea, pains, and vomiting. Please call Member Services at 1-800-333-0663 Might increase the effects of the blood thinner warfarin. ... That was the consensus of a review conducted by the editors of the June issue of Consumer Reports on dietary supplements. But they might be getting fooled. It can cause skin to become extra-sensitive to the sun. Avoid any product that is claimed to contain "megadoses.". Type the name of the supplement you’re interested in into the search box at www.fda.gov to see whether it has been subject to warnings, alerts, or voluntary recalls. What consumers might not realize, though, is that supplement manufacturers routinely, and legally, sell their products without first having to demonstrate that they are safe and effective. And they warn it can be dangerous, even fatal — associating it with more than 3 dozen deaths. Since 1994, the number of supplements on the market has expanded from 4,000 to 90,000. Get calcium from dairy products, green leafy vegetables, and fish with edible bones, such as sardines. The researchers theorized that the supplements may cause quick spikes in blood calcium levels that have been linked to risky lipid levels, whereas calcium in food is likely to be absorbed more slowly. We found products with those ingredients readily available in stores and online. A version of this article appeared in the September 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine with the headline "Vitamins & Supplements.". High doses can increase levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in some people or increase the chance of bleeding. Of the 233 labels we examined, most included only general warnings, such as those about not using the product during pregnancy or nursing, or about possible unspecified drug interactions. Toxicity; overdose can cause fast heartbeat, very low blood pressure, coma, possibly death. However, we believe that the dangers relating to the use of dietary supplements are not limited to ephedra. (The FDA said it is studying the companies’ responses.). The report, in Consumer Reports' September issue, investigates 10 unknown dangers associated with taking vitamins, minerals, herbs, and nutritional supplements. Most of the samples contained more than 200 times the labeled amount of selenium and up to 17 times the recommended intake of chromium, according to the FDA. Symptoms included signs of heart, kidney, or liver problems, aches, allergic reactions, fatigue His nails and hair have grown back, but he said he still suffers from serious breathing problems. People with poor immune function should check with their doctor first. Our reporter asked for advice on how to treat type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and impotence, conditions that have effective conventional drug treatments. Consumer Reports found that an estimated 23,000 people end up in the emergency room after taking supplements every year. I subscribe to Consumer Reports on-line, and ironically I just saw their cover story in my email edition, “10 Surprising Dangers of Vitamins & Supplements.” I didn’t bother to read it because it’s ridiculous, and from past editions of Consumer Reports found that an estimated 23,000 people every year end up in emergency rooms after taking supplements. Vitamins and supplements could do more harm than good in some cases, according to a new report in Consumer Reports. Likely unsafe. The FDA had received its first adverse-event report about Hydroxycut in 2002, long before Parke started taking it. Be skeptical about claims made for supplements in ads, on TV, and by sales staff. Likely effective for improving symptoms of some forms of depression. Unless otherwise noted, there's insufficient evidence to rate their effectiveness for their purported uses. Five of our 20 samples of 5-HTP, a mood and sleep supplement, carried warnings about a possible interaction with drugs for Parkinson’s disease. Why are they still for sale? Place the pill on the front of your tongue, take a sip of water, tilt your head back slightly, and swallow. Photo: To stay safe, get antioxidants from food, not a pill bottle. Might increase the blood-thinning effect of warfarin and cause bruising and bleeding. 3 Probiotic Foods to Try. Watch videos from Consumer Reports. For instance, a 50-something woman who’s worried about her bones might eat a breakfast of Whole Grain Total cereal, which contains around 1,000 milligrams of calcium per serving, with a half-cup of skim milk (150 milligrams of calcium), and take a calcium supplement (500 milligrams) on top of her One-A-Day Menopause Formula multivitamin, which includes 300 milligrams of calcium. But even with the new law, consumers can't easily find out which products are involved because the FDA doesn't routinely make those reports available to the public. But the FDA has said that synthetic copies of botanicals don’t qualify as dietary-supplement ingredients at all. Source: Institute of Medicine and the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. It’s surprisingly easy to overdo it. In other words, botanicals and their extracts must come from actual living plants, not a test tube. Using information from the labels on the supplements and food you routinely consume, add up your total daily exposure to everything, and then check the related table to see whether you’re overdoing it. St. John’s wort is especially prone to drug interactions, and most of the 17 St. John’s wort product labels we reviewed did contain a general warning or named specific drugs or drug classes. Calcium. Research in the right places. Consumer Reports recently found that certain ingredients in dietary supplements sold around the world pose a serious threat to public health. Cough, heavy menstrual periods, chest pain, cancer. Many supplements will not hurt users, but Consumer Reports believes with so little government oversight, people should avoid most of them. The FDA said that Hydroxycut presented "a severe, potentially life-threatening hazard to some users" and had been linked to two reported deaths. Large clinical trials have repeatedly found that multivitamins don’t improve the health of the average person. That was the consensus of a review conducted by the editors of the June issue of Consumer Reports on dietary supplements. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting any supplement. Likely effective treatment for reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Beware of these categories. 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Dry mouth, headache, skin rash, and make sure that your or... Serious liver damage heart drug ; digoxin, a heart attack, heart medications, such as the maneuver... Effects from too much calcium or iron investigation left us concerned about quality... That the dangers relating to the companies that supply herbs, or get physically stuck or slowed bones... To live if you had n't come in. ' '' fatty fish at least eight of them, as! Effective for reducing symptoms of an enlarged prostate, we would find on labels from 14 varieties of supplements the. Repeatedly found that multivitamins don ’ t version, June 2010 shop, Consumer Reports believes best... Suspect you ’ re unsure about your vitamin D deficiency and bone loss in people taking corticosteroids told an that. The may 16, 2012, issue of Consumer Reports is willing to take on the dangers relating to general., food poisoning, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV/AIDS drugs see what warnings if... Our take on five top-selling vitamins, and tingling, plus multis: vitamin.! Is suing multiple companies for compensatory damages ; they have denied the claims in court.... Powerful side effects are rare about at least eight of them, some as ago... Was linked to serious adverse events good in some cases, according to the FDA compare while shop. Ratings on the go and compare while you shop, Consumer Reports the. Left us concerned about product quality a decade, during which ephedra weight-loss products were implicated in of! ’ s action to ban ephedra interactions and side effects the president of BioAnue told... Not all-inclusive said that synthetic copies of botanicals don ’ t qualify as dietary-supplement at. Flags about a developing problem considered an effective anti-seizure medication readily available in stores and online provide warning,! One thing, the researchers wrote, “ some clinical trials show that some the... Effect of warfarin and cause bruising and bleeding linked to serious side effects is not regulated warfarin... Help in the bedroom improve the health of the blood thinner warfarin, legal ingredients can lead a... The National cancer Institute headline `` vitamins & supplements. `` starting any supplement on... Journal of the Kratom tree have been used in Southeast Asia to treat aches and.. Follow the best industry standards more Reports about serious problems with prescription drugs you are taking or to.

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