Skip to comments.Are Diet Supplements Dangerous? : The FDA Cannot Keep Up
Posted on 04/10/2014 8:35:25 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
If something is either essential or good for the health, surely more of it must be good for you? Such at any rate is the reasoning of half the American population who, between them spend more than $30 billion on dietary supplements, that is to say $200 a head per annum. All things considered, these supplements must be pretty safe, unlike prescription drugs, for few people die or have serious side-effects from them. Whether they do any good, other than as placebos, is another question entirely of course.
According to an article in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine there are 85,000 different supplements and combinations of supplements on the market, meaning that each of them sells, on average, approximately $375,000 worth per year. Given the popularity of some, this must mean that many are in a very small way of business indeed. It is the job of the Food and Drug Administration to monitor the safety of all these preparations: a task, one might have supposed, quite beyond the capacity of even the largest bureaucracy.
Not all the supplements are safe. One, called OxyElite Pro, caused hepatitis and even liver failure, first spotted by a liver transplant surgeon in Honolulu. It was used by body-builders to “burn off” fat, and it is isnt difficult to find people on the internet who mourn the fact that the product has been withdrawn from the market, despite its potentially dangerous side-effects (one person died).
Dietary supplements do not undergo the rigorous testing, either as to efficacy or safety, that pharmaceuticals undergo. The author of the article points out that many supplements contain newly-devised amphetamine-like stimulants, anabolic steroids, untested chemical analogies of Viagra and various antidepressants, and weight-loss substances that have already been banned from the pharmaceutical market.
The FDA cannot keep up for a number of reasons. Although doctors are supposed to report suspected side-effects to MedWatch, an on-line reporting site, many do not and under-reporting is very common. In fact, adverse side-effects are often recognised first by astute practitioners or local, rather than national, authorities. For example, when a badly-manufactured vitamin supplement resulted in more than 200 cases of selenium poisoning, it was a local public health authority, not the FDA, that implicated the supplement.
The author suggests a solution to a problem whose size (in respect of harm done) is unknown, in addition to a law that is now passing through Congress requiring the manufacturers to register their products with the FDA and provide it with more safety information. In essence, the author calls for more co-ordination between the various bodies that garner information about supplements.
But what, if anything, is to be done about the 150,000,000 Americans who feel they need to take supplements, either to grow muscular or to live forever? Where do their desires and superstitions come from? That dietary supplements are good for you is now as firmly ingrained in modern consciousness as that certain miracle-working icons could save you from various diseases was among elements of the Russian peasantry in the days of the Tsar and devastating epidemics. It seems that in the modern world everyone is skeptical except of what he should be. Here is a customer review of OxyElite Pro, used by body-builders:
I am still using this product and result can be observed by me. Every alternate Friday I used to measure my progress, although little changes can be seen, but that is the positive thing to me, I am dam sure that within six month I can fully reduce my fat from the body.
Of course, none of us can get by without faith in something.
I liked it. Never had any issues with it.
I don’t understand certain supplement fads like “Oxy-anything” or “Hydroxy-anything.” Your mileage may vary, I’ve found. Having been a meathead in college and for about 10 years thereafter, my “drug of choice” was creatine, but it was a proven and very effective weight training supplement. It was only after I started having bright flashes in my eyes and certain hydrostatic pressure issues with my eyes that I decided to stop using the product.
That being said, I don’t understand why using things like multivitamins, fish oil, even folic acid supplements for expectant mothers would be considered a bad idea. I’ve been taking multivitamins for the better part of 20 years, and I have no regrets. My hair and nails grow very quickly, and I’m never sick. My blood pressure and cholesterol are low despite being borderline obese, and I’ve been given clean bills of health from my regular doctors every year since I was a teenager.
If the FDA wants to study and regulate crap that claims to make you better in bed, thinner, sexier, or any other claim against vanity, go ahead, but leave the proven stuff alone. Some of us believe in it!
Concur. There are a lot of suppliments that are complete crap, but publicly talk about a suppliment and the alarmists come out screaming with their hair on fire.
Here’s a newsflash, coffee is a suppliment. Green tea, is a suppliment. Sheesh.
The goal is Codex Alimentarius. These are the talking points leading up to the final push for that. McCain is on board with this FTR.
Vitamin supplements aren’t available in most European countries to the extent they are here. If you want more than the RDA you need a physicians prescription for that. Multivitamins come in small 30 day supply bottles that contain a maximum of the RDA per pill for each ingredient. And they’re VERY spendy by comparison to the supplements in this country.
Which is the goal. Dope? Readily available. Big bottles of vitamin C? Call in the SWAT team.
This topic really gets me fired up! As a Registered Dietitian with a minor in science and 50 additional hours in herbs and vitamins the LAST thing I want is a failed government agency such as the FDA regulating herbs and vitamins! Over 100,000 people die a year in the US from FDA approved drugs. In that same year NOT ONE DEATH from vitamins and minerals. Maybe herbal abuse accounts for 50. Why would we ever consider letting a government agency with that track record regulate our health?! Not to mention they would LOVE to eliminate the use of herbs and vitamins and turn all manufacturing over to the Big Pharma. Big Pharma execs and the FDA leadership are a revolving door that leads to big money for all involved. The examples of this are too numerous to type. I could go on about this topic for hours, but I will stop now. Suffice it to say in NO way, shape or form is the FDA there to protect us. The more you know about them, the more it will scare the hell out of you.
RE: Over 100,000 people die a year in the US from FDA approved drugs.
Is it really the drugs that killed these people, or the disease that the drugs were intended to cure?
Actually it is over 100,000 that is documented. I am sure that it is actually a heck of a lot more than 100,000 dead as a result of FDA approved drugs. The majority are not reported.
The FDA does not do its own investigating before drugs are approved. In a clinical trial the company producing the drug contracts with an investigator (usually a doctor at a hospital_) to conduct a clinical trial. The docotr agrees to conduct the study accoring to drug company specifications and to recruit patients fitting the criteria into the study. The drug company will from time to time check on the progress of the study, but the FDA is almost NEVER involved in the study process. The FDA only approves the drugs or medical devises for use based upon the drug company’s data from the clinical trials. This data is very often “fudged” to give a better outcome so the drug will receive approval. There is big money involved and the stakes are high. Based on what I saw in my career as a clinical trial auditor, I’m surprised there are not more bad drugs.