The Dangers of Dietary Supplements

In a previous blog post, it was discussed how an investigation was held on the safety of Craze, a popular sports supplement. Scientists in laboratories in the United States and three other countries reported findings that the product contained undisclosed methamphetamine-like elements in Dendrobex™, one of the dietary ingredients listed on the label. A personal injury attorney in Chicago may be aware that the FDA must approve new dietary ingredients before they can be included in products marketed in the U.S.

One of the scientists at Harvard Medical School who analyzed the substances included in Craze warned that the effects of these products on the human body have never been studied. He stated that those who use Craze could be subjecting their bodies to unknown risks such as heart attack and stroke.

What is considered a dietary supplement?

According to the FDA, dietary supplements come in many familiar forms, such as soft gels, capsules and tablets. Although they may look similar to medication, a personal injury attorney in Chicago understands that they are not intended for the treatment or prevention of diseases. Some examples include the following:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Herbs
  • Fiber
  • Amino acids
  • Enzymes

Dietary supplements are generally intended to supply nutrients that may be lacking in an individual’s diet. Research indicates that calcium, folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids and others can be beneficial for health. However, the FDA cautions that they should not be taken as a replacement for a healthy diet. The government reviews new ingredients for safety, but does not determine the safety and effectiveness of each product before allowing it to be marketed.

What are the risks?

Some dietary supplements on the market may have unknown health risks. “Natural” and “safe” are not synonymous. Active ingredients in products may have significant biological effects that make them harmful. It is essential that individuals discuss dietary needs with their provider and pharmacist before adding products to their regimens, especially when issues such as medication and surgery are factors.

The National Institutes of Health warns that combining supplements with medication, substituting them for prescriptions or overdosing on supplements can create dangerous and even life-threatening situations. For example, vitamins C and E may cause some types of cancer chemotherapy to be less effective. Many foods include the same ingredients, which can lead to unwittingly high dosages that cause side effects. Vitamin A, a common food additive, may reduce bone strength and cause liver damage. Too much iron can also damage the liver.

The lack of timely regulation on supplement products on the market may result in health issues that cause significant suffering and even death. A personal injury attorney in Chicago may be able to help victims to hold manufacturers of these products liable for undisclosed ingredients and health risks.