Consumer Beware-FDA Regulations and Vitamin Supplementation
Consumers should be pro-active, and carefully research what is put into one’s body. Supplements and vitamins can frequently do more harm than good if used inappropriately. Some vitamins, such as mega doses of fat-soluble A, D, E, and K, can easily result in serious health problems. Some individuals can also experience adverse effects from too much calcium, magnesium, or iron. Deleterious health effects can result if the recommended daily dose is exceeded. The problem is, how do we know that the vitamins & supplements we are consuming are not harmful if they are not being regulated by the FDA?
Another matter to take into consideration is the possible interaction between prescribed medications and supplements. There are chemical substances in medicines that can at times reduce or increase one’s need for supplementation. Another factor to be cognizant of, is the potential for dangerous reactions between medically prescribed drugs and vitamin supplements. A great resource tool for researching such vital matters is WebMD.
As vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the FDA, it is highly recommended to consult with your health practionner before consuming any supplementation on a regular basis. This is your guarantee that you are not putting your health at risk. Do not assume the supposed inherent safety of your vitamins and supplements because they are reputed to be ‘all natural’. The fact is they can often be neither safe nor natural.
BE INFORMED & BE WARNED The adverse effects of self-supplementation can include heart, kidney, or liver problems, as well as allergic reactions, along with fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. An example of an unregulated supplement containing ephedrine alkaloids for weight loss resulted in 1000’s of adverse health events-including death. Even if an unregulated substance negatively impacted human health, current laws render it difficult for the FDA to have that product removed off the market in a timely fashion.
BEWARE! BODYBUILDERS/SEXUAL ENHANCEMENT PRODUCTS The unwary consumer may not know that many supplements contain prescription drugs such as sildenafil (Viagra), or sibutramine (Meridia) – a weight-loss drug that was removed from the market in 2010. Many ‘natural’ products contain synthetic steroids. Consumers are fooled into believing that such ingredients are preferable to prescribed drugs.
WARNING LABELS The FDA does not require warning labels on supplements-except for iron, which can result in fatal poisoning in children. Other than the warning for iron, most supplement/vitamin products are inconsistent when providing needed info regarding possible dangerous interactions or overdoses. It’s a good idea to have your doctor or pharmacist know about what prescription drugs you are taking or planning to take.
Steer clear away from ‘proven’ claims of a cure for major illnesses. The FDA’s regulatory partner, the Federal Trade Commission has brought many dozens of legal challenges to claims about the efficacy of supplements in curing or mitigating serious illness. Even botanical herbal preparations can be dangerous-especially in combination with prescribed drugs. To cite an example-St. John’s wort, used for mild depression, can interfere with prescribed drugs, and result in a dangerous reaction.
The FDA does not require the rigorous testing for supplements as it mandates for prescription drugs. It is therefore highly recommended to check for the USP Verified mark, which indicates that the product meets standards of potency levels, quality, and purity.
FOOD & LIFESTYLE Adequate exercise, the quitting of smoking, the moderate consumption of alcohol, as well as an overall positive health-enhancing lifestyle which includes good balanced nutrition, is preferable to overly relying on vitamin supplementation. A good balanced diet- rich in fruits and vegetables, grains and fish/lean meats- will ensure that you are getting all the nutrients you need. For further info please visit award winners OhioHealth in Columbus at https://www.ohiohealth.com or TriHealth in Cincinnati, at http://www.trihealth.com.