Dietary supplements are a $28 billion dollar business in America.  Thanks to 1994's Hatch Act, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), pushed through Congress and released upon a then-unprotesting public by Utah's Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), substances which may be benign, toxic, and everything in between, as long as they are sold as "dietary nutritional supplements," get a virtual free pass.

According to Dr. George Lundberg, member of the Institute of Medicine and former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), manufacturers of supplements can make "structure-function" claims, such as "supports sexual health," but not actual health claims (which the FDA defines as proof that the substance can be used to diagnose, treat,  cure or prevent any disease).

Part of the law mandates that ingredients brought to market after 1994, so-called "novel" ingredients -- and only those -- be shown to have passed safety tests.  Older ingredients got "grandfathered" in without the need to be proven either safe or effective.  There have been approximately 51,000 new ingredients brought to market since DSHEA passed, of which about 0.3% -- that's not a misprint, 170 out of 51,000 -- have documented safety tests.

Unfortunately, consumers are often under the impression that substances called "natural" must be safe and that includes vitamins, minerals, potions, herbals, biologicals, etc.  If a shopper has a question about the efficacy or danger of a supplement, they may simply ask the health-food store employee who is not required to have any kind of credentials.

According to Dr. Lundberg, "We Americans, so concerned about minute amounts of this or that chemical in our food and water, and ready to challenge our board-certified internist on treatment decisions, gobble down supplements with alarming obliviousness to their potential dangers and denial of the overwhelming absence of evidence of benefit."

A "Perspective" article in a recent New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Pieter Cohen called for a tightening -- no, not even that, merely actually enforcing the law as written -- by having the FDA demand that, instead of pleading with, the supplement manufacturers supply the agency with at least the legal minimum of data on their products' safety.

 

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Comments

yes always concern your doctor first...when you take any type of medicine.

yes, that's true that many merchants just selling their items for their profit. I think that even they don't ever think how supplements can give us bad effect

Governments should keep a strict control of the companies that manufacture these products. Some of these products might be beneficial, but some might be detrimental for your health. We have to be careful.

Your post has been excellent and nice. Your topic is useful for all. I come back in your site when you will provide new post. Thanks for sharing.

I'm shocked to read this. "Part of the law mandates that ingredients brought to market after 1994, so-called “novel” ingredients — and only those — be shown to have passed safety tests. Older ingredients got “grandfathered” in without the need to be proven either safe or effective. There have been approximately 51,000 new ingredients brought to market since DSHEA passed, of which about 0.3% — that’s not a misprint, 170 out of 51,000 — have documented safety tests." There are several countries worldwide where law enforcement is not that effective. 170 of 51,000!!

Although this little thing sales like hot pancakes, it still needs to be thoroughly check. I hope they would further enhance this dietary supplements and tighten their security when it comes to being legit. Nice blog!

A dietary supplement, also known as food supplement or nutritional supplement, is a preparation intended to supplement the diet and provide nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, or amino acids, that may be missing or may not be consumed in sufficient quantities in a person's diet.

my wife is buying dietary supplements pills in a month now, and I'm not sure if it is safe or not.. how can you tell if this pill is safe and effective EDITOR'S NOTE: Check the FDA website under cosmetics

Nice post, There are lot of pills on the market right now and its just so hard to check which of these are the effectual ones.

Dietary supplements are very important but should be used according to the label. You should also do your own research

I agree that there has to be a tightening on regulating said ingredients of supplements but what I don't agree with is the FDA trying to block the "safe" supplements because the said ingredients are naturally occurring in the body and so it can't be patented and profited by the pharmaceutical manufacturers. It's going to be very disheartening if our current president is re-elected and his plans to destroy our health plans are enacted. Then you just watch... the natural health and supplement industry will be the next target. Then everything we've been discussing here will be mute. Our diets are already screwed up so much that we need a certain amount of supplements to keep us healthy. Modern day farming will agree with this as we are told that we are not getting the same nutrients that we were 20 or even 10 years ago. Our health as a nation reflects that. I believe it is our responsibility to be more responsible and aware of our health and diets. If I know that I or my family are not getting certain vital nutrients in the food products we consume then surely I will consider supplementation. I fear that option will also soon be under attack.

Hi! Thanks for this post. There are really a lot of dietary pills on the market right now and its just so hard to identify which of these are the legitimate ones.

my father has this condition in his heart -> left ventricular hypertrophy (the left side of the heart has enlarged/thicked) he was advised to lose weight significantly, as well as to stop with his herbal supplements. He seems to have a really good appetite when taking those herbal supplements. I guess that's why he had to stop...

Thanks Sharon. I was not really aware of this. I like many people over the years have been a bit of a sucker for the "it's natural so it must be good for you" routine. Then one day a friend pointed out that pyrethrum is natural - it's a natural poison & if you drink it you will die - naturally!! The whole natural thing is designed to lull us into a false sense of trust that everything is ok so there's no need to worry. In Australia where I live, TV advertising on women's soaps, shampoos & cosmetics really annoys me. They show young healthy happy women in beautiful fields & pastures with mountain stream & talk about products being filled with peaches or almonds or avocados or an assortment of flowers & cause people to forget that they are made in factories & chemical laboratories. It's a great idea to read the labels but if companies aren't required to say much (as you point out) it makes it difficult to be certain about anything.

The psychological stranglehold of the "supplement" industry is getting out of hand. I have to admit to being guilty of falling for the hype myself. Almost all of those supplements are not necessary except fish oil. Everything else can be gained through a proper diet. I was actually discussing a new problem arising with a colleague, where people take in too many vitamins and minerals, which end up doing more damage than anything else. Thanks for spreading the word, cheers!

Nice article! I agree, dietary supplements are helpful to the public, and should not be sold stating that they can "cure" certain illnesses. Dietary supplements are very important but should be used according to the label. You should also do your own research and possibly speak with your doctor before starting any supplementation. Better to be safe than sorry!

Thanks for spreading awareness , very nice informative post, The people are under the impression that substances called “natural” must be safe and that includes vitamins, minerals, potions, herbals, biologicals........ ...... Thanks for spreading the word,

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