According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than of adult Americans use dietary supplements, including supplements for weight loss, sexual enhancement and sports enhancement. And while the use of supplements continues to rise, they still do not fall under the same regulations and screenings as prescriptions drugs.
Dietary supplements are regulated under a different set of regulations than those covering “conventional” food and drug products. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that “Manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements and dietary ingredients are prohibited from marketing products that are adulterated or misbranded. That means that these firms are responsible for evaluating the safety and labeling of their products before marketing to ensure that they meet all the requirements of DSHEA and FDA regulations.”
In other words, the dietary supplement manufacturers are the ones responsible for making and selling a safe product. And it is up to the manufacturers and distributors to ensure all claims and information on the product label and in other labeling are truthful and not misleading. The DA can recall the product once its market, but until then, the manufacturer is primarily responsible for the product.
Unfortunately, many of these dietary supplements are not safe and end up being recalled by the FDA. And even more concerning, a recent study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) discovered that many of the recalled dietary supplements still contained banned drugs at least 6 months after being recalled.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Cambridge Health Alliance, a health care network affiliated with Harvard University. The researchers found a list 274 of the dietary supplements recalled by the FDA between 2009 and 2012 and analyzed 27 of the products.
Of the 27 recalled products analyzed, approximately 68 percent of them were still available for purchase and still contained the banned ingredients. Examples of the banned ingredients include steroids, prescription drugs, and even Sibutramine, an amphetamine-like drug used in weight loss supplements that was removed from the market Europe after a clinical trial showed it increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
While it is unfortunate to see this many banned substances on the market, it is not a complete surprise. Manufacturers want to make money, and sadly, many of them do so by producing supplements that seem to be “even better and more effective” than prescription drugs. And apparently, many of them get away with producing these unsafe, illegal supplements since they are not closely scrutinized by the FDA.
So what we can we do to help prevent the production of these unsafe supplements? Be mindful of what you are putting into your body and do not purchase anything that seems questionable. For instance, most multivitamins and single ingredient herbal supplements are fine, but anything that claims to do the “impossible” (ie, help you lose 10 pounds in a week) probably contains something harmful to your body.
Remember, supplements should simply enhance or improve your diet, not replace it. If you are eating right and getting sufficient physical activity, then you should be taking very few, if any, dietary supplements!
Nov 11 2014
Health Jessica Brantley| 2 hours ago
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