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Harmful Dietary Supplements


As the focus on improving health becomes paramount these days, it’s no wonder that dietary supplements have become a thriving industry. But many people don’t realize that there is a grave lack of government oversight in the supplement business. That translates to situations where consumers may not get what they pay for, and, in far too many situations, they get much more than they could have imagined in purchased supplements, resulting in serious health outcomes. Consumer Reports outlines the perils: there are a number of very dangerous products on the market that have been connected to health issues such as comas, heart issues, liver damage, kidney damage, cancer, and even death.

Supplements that are Highly Suspect 

Particular categories of supplements are historically more problematic than others, with those aimed at sexual enhancement, bodybuilding, and weight loss topping the list. Furthermore, experts recommend avoiding supplements that claim to be megadoses, as high doses of vitamins and minerals can actually be harmful to health.

CR’s “Dirty Dozen” 

Consumer Reports has compiled a list of the worst supplemental products on the market, some of which have already received FDA warnings. Even so, there are numerous products containing these ingredients available for purchase across the country:

  1. Geranium;
  2. Comfrey;
  3. Aconite;
  4. Colloidal silver;
  5. Comfrey;
  6. Kava;
  7. Yohimbe;
  8. Coltsfoot;
  9. Bitter orange;
  10. Greater Celandine;
  11. Lobelia;
  12. Country Mallow.

The Problems 

Because there is a dearth of proper inspection and quality control measures involving these supplements, they are at increased risk for contamination. Prescription drugs, pesticides, hidden steroids, and heavy metals have been discovered in dietary supplements after being sold to unsuspecting customers who were simply trying to advance healthy outcomes. According to Harvard Health Publishing, about eight in ten of 800 dietary supplements that were tested contained a pharmaceutical ingredient; one in five of the supplements had two different pharmaceutical ingredients. Some supplements—many that had never been tested by the FDA or that had been tested and taken off the market in the US– had three or more dangerous ingredients. All of the supplements could conceivably have poor—even dangerous interactions– with other prescription drugs a consumer might be using. These products and their hidden ingredients can cause harm with misuse or overuse, and could impact underlying conditions a user might have. None of these supplements were supposed to have any pharmaceutical ingredients. The idea that many of these dietary supplements could have harmful reactions with other medicines and treatments is truly disturbing. Some supplements’ hidden ingredients may lead to bleeding or infections after surgery; others could sensitize the skin of patients who are undergoing radiation treatments. Still others make chemotherapy and other prescribed drugs less potent or aggravate drug side effects.

The Bottom Line 

Taking a dietary supplement that has unrealistic claims for your health, especially if they claim to treat or cure a medical problem, is just not a good idea, according to experts. Just because products claim to be natural, and therefore safer, consumers can’t count on them to be risk-free.  Many can be harmful even when taken as directed. Ultimately, if you experience serious health effects as a result of taking dietary supplements, you may wish to hold the manufacturer accountable. To discuss the possibilities, schedule a confidential consultation with the experienced Baltimore personal injury attorneys at The Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes today.

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