Are Your Supplements Safe?
Do you take any supplements? If you are into nutrition you probably do or have at some point in your life. Until a few years ago, only weight trainers would consume supplements. Now, people who are worried about their health and wellness, in general, are all current consumers. According to the website Nutraingredients-usa.com, the size of the U.S. supplement industry is almost $40 billion.
But, there's a problem. Thanks to Clinton in 1994, a law was signed and everything changed. Before 1994, dietary supplements were subject to the same regulatory requirements as were other foods. This law left the responsibility of supplement regulation to the companies themselves. So, if I make a supplement, I am the only person responsible for ensuring that it actually contains what I am saying that it contains on the label, or that it is safe, effective, and so forth.
On October 15, 2015, there was a release of an article where researchers analyzed data from 63 emergency departments in the U.S. from 2004 through 2013 to describe visits because of adverse events related to dietary supplements. They calculated an average of about 23,000 emergency room visits for adverse events associated with dietary supplements annually and further estimated that these visits would result in an average of 2,154 hospitalizations annually. Twenty-eight percent of those emergency department visits involved young adults. After the exclusion of unsupervised ingestion by children, weight-loss products were implicated in a quarter of those emergency department visits.
Don't get me wrong. I am pro supplements and recommend them to my clients on an individual basis regularly. But, the intake of a supplement has to be carefully monitored. Brands, compositions, amounts, safety, effectiveness, interactions, and length for administration are all factors that have to be well studied. Health professionals must watch for side effects, and of course, positive results. Most of the time, clients will just need to add or eliminate specific foods to resolve their problems without the need for supplements.
The government's agency, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), released a note after the publication of this article as follows:
"NCCIH has had a longstanding commitment to build the base of objective evidence on the safety and efficacy of natural products, including supplements. We work hard to examine whether they work, and if so, how they work... NCCIH’s role is to conduct scientific research—this includes identifying the bioactive substances in supplements affecting human cells, organs, the immune system, and the brain as well as research on interactions. We also provide objective, evidence-based information to help people make informed decisions about using complementary approaches... Remember, “natural” does not always mean safe, and if a product’s claims seem too good to be true, they probably are."