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Things You Didn’t Know About Dietary Supplements

February 12, 2016
Colson Hicks Eidson

In 2013 a transplant surgeon noticed the high number of people coming to her hospital with liver failure. She interviewed several of these patients and found that they had all taken the OxyElite Pro fitness supplement. The discovery led to a nationwide recall, and several lawsuits were filed, but it also exposed a danger that many Americans never suspected.

Things You Didn’t Know About Dietary Supplements

A study from the New England Journal of Medicine examined ER visits between 2004 and 2013, and discovered that 23,000 of those visits were associated with supplements. The study reported that 65 percent of those incidents involved supplements for weight loss, energy and sex drive, while around 30 percent of these visits involved vitamins and micronutrient pills. A quarter of those visits were by people ages 20 to 34, and almost another quarter of these visits were made by children who took supplements not meant for them.

Can Dietary Supplements Be Regulated?

Dietary supplements are treated like food items under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. This means that a product must be proven harmful to consumers before it can be removed from the market, rather than manufacturers having to prove that a supplement is not harmful to people before they put it on shelves.

Though many researchers have proven that supplements can have harmful side-effects, these potentially dangerous products have made it to store shelves nationwide. Organizations like the Council for Responsible Nutrition are fighting to tighten the regulation of these products, but lobbyists have been able to halt bills that would force manufacturers to prove the safety of their products before they go to market.

Keep up with the struggle by following our blog, and tell us your solutions for the lack of supplement regulation on Twitter and Facebook.