Study finds supplements may cause more harm than good

As people in Philadelphia and across the country have developed an increased interest in their physical well-being, many have turned to supplements to boost their health. According to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, some supplements may not be as safe as consumers believe.

The researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital reviewed data from all of the Class I recalls conducted by the Food and Drug Administration from 2004 to 2012. During that period, the FDA recalled 465 drugs in Class I recalls. A Class I recall is issued when it is determined that specific ingredients within the drug have a reasonable probability of resulting in “serious adverse health consequences or death.”

Of the 465 drugs subjected to such a recall during that period, just over 50 percent were dietary supplements. The supplements most likely to face a Class I recall during that period were targeted to consumers who were focused on:

There are approximately 65,000 supplements available to consumers in the United States, and approximately 150 million people in the U.S. take advantage of that market. Unfortunately, dietary supplements are not subject to the same FDA restrictions as other medications. In fact, they can be put on the shelves without FDA approval.

Consequently, some supplements are produced in locations that would not meet FDA standards. In addition, the FDA has found that a variety of the supplements are “adulterated,” meaning other ingredients are included that are not meant to be a part of the supplement.

Source: Forbes, “Massive Drug Recalls are a Wake-Up Call for Vitamin and Supplement Industry,” David DiSalvo, April 18, 2013.

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