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Before taking your vitamins, do your research

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Dietary supplements may appear to be a healthier alternative to other medications, but they have their own risks and can interact with medications and one another. Proceed with caution.

The marketing and selling of dietary supplement products has become a 20-billion-plus industry. Consumers are bombarded with ads, and some people turn to them as “healthier” choices to prescription and over-the-counter medications. Consumers should seek products that have been properly manufactured and should be aware of potential interactions with medications. For other important tips, read the article “Prepared Patient: Vitamins & Supplements, Before You Dive In”.

Tainted dietary supplements: How do you know?

Dietary supplements do not require approval by the FDA, so how can you know if the supplement you are considering is tainted? Read on for warning signs and new actions by the FDA that can help.

Tainted dietary supplements most often occur among products typically marketed for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding. They can have deceptive labeling as well as undeclared, harmful ingredients. The question is: How can consumers protect themselves from these products?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently taken some steps to help consumers look out for potentially harmful dietary supplement products.  Consumers and healthcare professionals can receive notifications from the FDA by subscribing to the RSS feed. The Commissioner of Food and Drugs also sent a letter to the dietary supplement industry reminding them of their responsibility to prevent the sale of tainted products in the United States. The FDA has also made it easier to report to the FDA about tainted products.

Some of these tainted dietary supplement products contain active ingredients of FDA-approved drugs or other compounds that are not classified as dietary ingredients. These products can have serious side effects, including death. The FDA has identified roughly 300 tainted products that are not legal dietary supplements and are warning consumers about the serious side effects of these products. Consumers should be cautious of:

  • Product ads that claim to “melt your fat away,” or claim that “diet and exercise [are] not required,” or products that use the words “guaranteed,” “scientific breakthrough,” or “totally safe.”
  • Products that use numerous testimonials about “results seen” from using the product.
  • Any product that is labeled or marketed in a foreign language. Consumers should not buy or consume these products.
  • Products that are marketed as herbal alternatives to FDA-approved drugs.
  • Products marketed and sold on the Internet.

    There have been some recent voluntary recalls due to FDA investigations of dietary supplement products. Some of these have included weight-loss products that contained the prescription drug ingredient sibutramine. Sexual enhancement products have also been recalled for containing the undeclared drug ingredients sulfosildenafil and tadalafil. Other products marketed as supplements have been identified as containing various prescription drug ingredients.

    It is important that consumers be aware that, under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, companies do not need FDA approval prior to marketing such products. Thus, generally speaking, the FDA does not approve dietary supplements.

    Consumers need to be savvy when they make product purchases, and when in doubt, check with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine if you need a dietary supplement product and to help determine what could be a tainted product. If it looks too good to be true, chances are it is.  For more information, read the “FDA’s Beware of Fraudulent ‘Dietary Supplements’.”

    Survey: Half of Americans use dietary supplements

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    Filed under: Dietary supplements
    CNN.com is reporting on a new government study which reports that more than half of American adults take at least one dietary supplement. But despite their popularity, many experts remain skeptical of their effects.

    CNN.com is reporting on a new government study which reports more than half of American adults take at least one dietary supplement. But despite their popularity, many experts remain skeptical of their effects.The study, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, found that more than 40 percent of Americans used supplements from 1988 to 1994, but by 2006 more than half were doing so. Multivitamins were found to be the most commonly used supplement.

     

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    Dietary supplements: Questions and answers

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    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) answers consumers' questions about dietary supplements and the regulations of dietary supplements.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has information for consumers regarding dietary supplements: Questions and answers, regulations, and safety alerts. Click here for their website.

    Beware of Fraudulent Weight-Loss "Dietary Supplements"

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    The FDA warns against weight-loss products which don't live up to their claims and can potentially cause serious harm.

    The FDA warns against weight-loss products which don't live up to their claims and can potentially cause serious harm. Dozens of products have been found being marketed as dietary supplements which contain hidden prescription drugs or compounds that have not been adequately studied in humans.

    For more information, click here [PDF].

    Beware of Fraudulent "Dietary Supplements"

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    Federal regulators continue to warn consumers about tainted, dangerous products that are marketed as dietary supplements.

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found nearly 300 fraudulent products–promoted mainly for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding–that contain hidden or deceptively labeled ingredients.

    Click here for more information [PDF].

    FDA Alert: FDA Warns Consumers to Stop Using Soladek Vitamin Solution

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    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about a vitamin solution, Soladek; samples that were tested contained dangerously high levels of vitamins A and D.

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about a vitamin solution, Soladek; samples that were tested contained dangerously high levels of vitamins A and D.  The FDA has advised consumers currently using this product to stop immediately.

    For more information, read the FDA warning.

    Lazy Cakes: Brownies – or something else?

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    With added melatonin to help you relax, this is no typical brownie.

    Lazy Cakes Relaxation Brownies claim to “have relaxation built into every bite.” One brownie (half is the recommended serving size) contains 3 mg of melatonin, a hormone made by the body but also available as a supplement that is often used to treat sleep disorders and jet lag. Selling these brownies as a dietary supplement allows the manufacturer to avoid FDA regulation for foods and beverages. The label warns consumers not to drive or operate heavy machinery and to consult your physician if you are taking medication or are pregnant or nursing; it also says the product is recommended for adults only. Buyers beware…this is no typical brownie.

    FDA Recall Alert: Fruta Planta weight loss dietary supplements

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    Godi International, Corp., located in South Florida is announcing a recall of Fruta Planta weight loss dietary supplements.

    Godi International, Corp., located in South Florida is announcing a recall of Fruta Planta weight loss dietary supplements because the products contain Sibutramine an undeclared drug ingredient. Sibutramine is an FDA approved drug used as an appetite suppressant for weight loss. This poses a potential threat to consumers because Sibutramine is known to substantially increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients and may present a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias or stroke.

    Click below to access the recall alert.

    Recall of All weight loss formulas and variation of formulas of Reduce Weight Fruta Planta/Reduce Weight Dietary Supplement

    New York Times: "Serious dangers" of alcoholic energy drinks

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    A recent New York Times article reports that scientists are worried about highly caffeinated beverages like Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster and Full Throttle, which are popular among teenagers and young adults.

    A recent New York Times article reports that scientists are worried about highly caffeinated beverages like Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster and Full Throttle, which are popular among teenagers and young adults.  According to the article, the often bizarre combination of ingredients in these drinks prompted three researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the University of Queensland in Australia to examine what is known — and not known — about the contents of these beverages, which are sold alongside sodas and sport drinks in supermarkets, drugstores and highway rest stops.

    Click below to access the article.

    Scientists See Dangers in Energy Drinks

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