Are Supplements Dangerous part 1

This is a series of three very interesting articles  written by my good friend Professor Steve Chaney, and that I am sharing with you with his authorization.

“Many of you have been asking me about the article titled “10 Surprising Dangers of Vitamins and Supplements” in the September 2012 issue of Consumer Reports. This article reminds me of the political advertisements that we have seen so much of recently. There is a kernel of truth in there somewhere, but by the time the ad airs it has been so magnified and distorted that it’s almost unrecognizable.

So let’s look at the warnings that the authors have made one by one, and put them in perspective.

The first warning is that supplements are not risk-free.

That is true up to a point. There are some bad players in the industry but they produce a very small minority of the supplements in the marketplace – probably less than 2%.

To understand just how small a problem this really is, we really need to put the warning into perspective. The authors said that there were 6,300 reports of serious adverse effects and 115 deaths associated with dietary supplements between 2007 and 2012. That corresponds to 1,260 serious adverse effects and 23 deaths per year.

In contrast, there are over 2.2 million adverse drug reactions and over 125,000 deaths per year from medications taken as properly prescribed.

So which is more dangerous – food supplements or prescription drugs?

The second warning is that some supplements are really prescription drugs.

Again that is a true statement, but it represents only a few bad apples in the industry – it’s not the industry norm.

The worst offenders are among supplements marketed for bodybuilding, weight loss, and sexual enhancement – especially those that promise instant or effortless results. These supplements often contain stimulants or synthetic steroids.

I have warned you about some of these supplements in my past columns. As I have said in the past “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. So just avoid those supplements that advertise that they will make the pounds just melt away or enable you to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

The third warning is that you can overdose on vitamins and minerals.

That’s kind of a no-brainer. You can overdose on almost anything – even water.

Now I do not want to minimize the possibility of overdosing on vitamins and minerals. It can happen. Most of those 1,260 serious adverse effects reported each year are probably due to overdosing – although some of them may represent drug – nutrient interactions.

If you are taking high levels of vitamins and minerals, I do recommend that you familiarize yourself with the safe upper limits set by the Institute of Medicine and the Office of Dietary Supplements. You can find that at http://www.ods.od.nih.gov.

The fourth warning is that you can’t depend on warning labels.

Again, that is true with a small minority of the supplements out there. In fact, it is a good way to distinguish between the fly-by-night companies and the reputable companies.

My advice to you is to do your due diligence. Look for responsible, reputable companies that that put warning labels on their supplements.

The fifth warning is that no supplements have been proven to cure major diseases.

As the authors point out the FDA does not allow claims that supplements can diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent diseases. These claims are only allowed for FDA approved drugs.

You wonít find many companies making those claims, but this is yet another good way to separate the reputable companies from the not so reputable companies. If you see claims that a supplement can cure or treat a disease, run the other way. Reputable companies would not make such a claim.

The sixth warning is to buy with caution from botanicas.

The authors are referring to stores that sell traditional medicinal plants for physical or spiritual healings – the California medicinal pot stores come to mind. The botanica type stores are completely unregulated, so you have no idea what you’re actually getting.

I agree strongly with this recommendation, but it has very little to do with the supplements that you and I are likely to be purchasing on a regular basis.

That’s enough for one week. Next week I will cover warnings 7 through 10 in the article.

In short, there is some truth to each of the warnings that I have covered this week from the Consumer Reports article. But, it is important to keep those statements in perspective. Each of them is true only for a very small percentage of the supplements in the marketplace.

So those warnings should not scare you away from supplementation. But they will help you choose high quality supplements from reputable manufacturers, and hopefully will make it less likely that you’ll fall for the hype and deceptive advertising used by a very small segment of supplement manufacturers.”

Written by Prof. S. Chaney.

About the Author: Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He did hold the rank of Professor at a major university where runs an active cancer research program and has published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Additional resources: Social Marketing Connection


0 Responses to “Are Supplements Dangerous part 1”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Check out our Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 147 other followers

Dr Dubois

SwissChiropractic Clinique

SwissChiropractic Clinique

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP Dr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

Personal Links

View Full Profile →


%d bloggers like this: