Controversy surrounding the dietary supplement industry continues to increase at an alarming pace. However, many of the fears may be warranted by subsequent studies and statistics. According to a recent report in Consumer Reports, some dietary supplements may do more harm than good. The report, in Consumer Reports’ September Issue, was intended to investigate ten unknown dangers associated with taking vitamins, minerals, herbs, and nutritional supplements. What they uncovered may come as a surprise to approximately half of all Americans who take dietary supplements on a regular basis.
According to the definition provided by congress in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, dietary supplements contain ingredients intended to supplement one’s diet. However, they are by no means permitted to make claims that directly affect the structure or function of a subsequent body part. “Dietary ingredients” contained within these products often include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites.
However, supplements claiming to be all-natural are not necessarily risk free. According to Dr. Jose Mosquera, not all supplements are truly all-natural. The dietary supplement market contains a lot of products with undisclosed and potentially dangerous ingredients. “These products are masquerading as dietary supplements—they may look like dietary supplements, but they are not legal dietary supplements,” says Michael Levy, director of FDA’s Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance. “Some of these products contain hidden prescription ingredients at levels much higher than those found in an approved drug product and are dangerous.”
From 2007 till the present, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 6,300 reports of adverse events following dietary supplement treatment. The inclusion of undisclosed drugs may significantly increase the risk of adverse health effects. Reports received by the FDA acknowledge that these products may be associated with an increased risk of stroke, liver injury, kidney failure, heart palpitations, and death. The reports include 115 deaths and 2,100 hospitalizations. As a result, dietary supplement lawsuits have seen a large increase.
In response to the growing concern over tainted dietary supplements, Dr. Mosquera suggests setting boundaries on intake. Mosquera believes that supplements should only be taken when the consumer has a true deficiency. “Supplements and vitamins should never be a substitute for a healthy lifestyle with a nutritional plan,” he says. He adds that it’s better to get vitamins from healthy eating than from taking supplements.
However, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) refutes the claims made by Mosquera. According to the CRN, an association representing the best interests of dietary supplement manufacturers, “There is a strong body of scientific evidence that supports the benefits of dietary supplements and these products have a very strong profile for safety.”
Complicating the matter, however, is the growing concern of tainted dietary supplements. Many of these products contain the same active ingredients found in prescription drugs. Due to their presence, not only is the product considered a drug, but the undisclosed ingredient may pose as a serious health threat to those who take it unknowingly. The supplements for body building, enhancing sexual performance, and losing weight are the most likely to be laced, says Mosquera. He advises, “Protect yourself by trying to avoid these types of supplements, and have a conversation with your doctor about lifestyle changes.”
Do I Have a Dietary Supplement Lawsuit?
The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience navigating through complex legislative and regulatory issues and litigating high stakes cases all over the nation. Our law firm focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in dietary supplement lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a dietary supplement, you may be entitled to financial compensation. For a free case review, please click the link below or call toll free 24 hrs/day 1-800-773-0849.