Vitamins and supplements have long been tied to health benefits and disease prevention, but a new study from Consumer Reports would suggests otherwise, saying there’s a dark side to natural supplements we may not realize. The study highlights supplement-related incidents including adverse reactions, misleading advertising, and even an increase in diseases that some pills claim to treat.
Some of the most worrisome news is that not only are some supplements not all-natural as they claim to be, but they could also be laced with prescription drugs. These prescriptions can interfere with other drugs and cause kidney failure, a stroke, or even death.
Most supplements recalled had the same ingredients as prescriptions marketed for weight loss, bodybuilding, and sexual enhancement. Consumers wanting a natural alternative to Viagra, for example, may be buying an herbal remedy that’s spiked with the same active ingredient used in Viagra – sildenafil.
This problem recently showed up in the 2012 Olympic games when bodybuilder Hysen Palaku was barred from competing after testing positive for steroids. The Albanian said he only took herbal supplements and was unaware they contained a drug.
UPDATE May 25, 2012: Yesterday’s vote regarding Senator Durbin’s proposed amendment to the pending FDA Safety and Innovation Act was tabled. A Senate vote of 77 to 20 has removed Durbin’s amendment from consideration in the overall bill.
Durbin sponsored an amendment that would change the current FDA regulation of natural supplements and potentially cause many products to be removed from shelves. His amendment was introduced on Tuesday, May 22 and the voting took place two days later. In two days’ time supplement industries, consumer rights organizations, along with the Natural Products Association (NPA), American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and Citizens for Health sent word to their supporters urging them to contact their Senators to oppose Durbin’s plan. As a result, the amendment was not passed and no change will occur to the current law regarding natural supplements. According to the Natural Products Insider, AHPA President Michael McGuffin is very pleased.
“I have worked with my colleagues from each of the other supplement trade associations over the last several days in this call for prompt and cooperative action, and I am pleased that this effort reaffirms the incredible unity of the dietary supplement industry when legislative threats to DSHEA emerge.”
Illinois Senator Richard Durbin has proposed an amendment that would require supplement manufacturers to register with the FDA. Due to the terms of this amendment, if passed, many supplements will be ripped from shelves within the next 30 days.
The vote is scheduled to take place this afternoon, Thursday, May 24. If Durbin’s plan is accepted, a mandate will be placed on supplements requiring information to be provided to the FDA. That information includes a description of the supplement, a list of ingredients, a label for all supplements, and updated information for each new, reformulated, or discontinued product. All of these requirements will fall under the Senate FDA Re-authorization for User Fees bill.
If this amendment passes, supplement companies that fail to register with the FDA within 30 days will be considered “mis-branded” and may be subject to severe financial fees and possibly even jail time.
Currently, supplements operate under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). This act states that the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring the safety of a supplement before it is marketed. The FDA is only involved if a product is found to be unsafe after it’s on the market.
While the amendment will affect pills and natural food supplements, Durbin seems to be most concerned about the content of energy drinks. He has even referenced a case of a young woman who died as a result of using an energy drink. The senator wants the FDA to evaluate the difference between a drink and a liquid dietary supplement, and feels energy drinks are dodging regulations by claiming to be a dietary supplement. If they were categorized as drinks they would have to be regulated like all other food and drink products.
Natural supplement suppliers and users have had a short window to petition their local senators and encourage them to vote against the amendment. Due to this, tomorrow may bring major change to the natural supplement industry as we know it.
When weight loss is the goal, most professionals will only recommend two prescriptions: diet and exercise. There is no magic pill that will create healthy and lasting weight loss, or at least there wasn’t. Even health professionals are surprised by the findings that green coffee beans are having on weight loss.
The baffling research is showing that individuals who take green coffee bean supplements are losing weight despite exercising or even dieting.
The recent green coffee bean study was published in the Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity Journal. The research followed 16 adults who supplemented their diet with green coffee bean for 12 weeks. Throughout the study, the subjects lost an average of 17 pounds each. These individuals changed nothing about their lifestyle other than taking the supplement and ended up losing 10.5% of their overall body weight and 16% of their overall body fat.
Another perk? No side effects were reported during the study. In a country where obesity is literally an epidemic, this news about green coffee beans is amazing. (more…)
The supplement aisle of any supermarket or natural grocery store can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of products on the shelf, all claiming different benefits. Some are labeled with a letter of the alphabet, others are named after a tree root, and some seem like they belong on the spice aisle.
With an industry so big and so confusing, it’s alarming that there are still no strict regulations for these over the counter products. This has been an on going health frustration, leading doctors and legislators to speak out.
In 1994, President Clinton signed the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA). This placed dietary supplements as a subcategory of food. Therefore supplements can go to market without submitting proof of safety or efficacy to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 17 years later, this law remains despite the stories of harm and the urging of physicians for change.
If you’re faithfully taking your daily multi-vitamin, you should be proud of yourself. You’re doing a good thing for your body and your overall health, right? Unfortunately, you may not be helping yourself as much as you think.
The FDA has strict guidelines and regulations for prescription drugs, however there is not process for regulating vitamins and supplements. The only testing on these products is done independently. ConsumerLab.com and its researchers conducted a test on 38 multi-vitamins and published their findings this week. The tests concluded that eight products contained too few of the specific nutrients, two contained more nutrients than the label stated, and three simply had improper labeling.