Daily Read: Pill Poppers

Dietary supplements have been in the news a lot lately. Ever since an investigation in New York found that many supplements don’t even contain the active ingredient listed on the label (in other words, there might be NO St. John’s Wort in your bottle of St. John’s Wort), supplements have been getting attention. And now yet another study shows that many popular supplements contain amphetamines which, of course, were not listed on the label (and which the FDA apparently has known about for two years) . Julia Belluz writes about these stories and the overall lack of regulation of the supplement industry in today’s Daily Read. Amazingly, supplement makers are allowed to make unsubstantiated claims about their products on the product label. You know that little box on the supplement bottle that says “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease”? That’s the supplement industry’s get out of jail free card. Unlike regulated drugs, which have to be rigorously tested for safety and efficacy before they are approved, the burden of proof for supplements works in reverse: the FDA must prove that supplements are harmful before they can be taken off the market! Basically, supplement makers can make any claim they want and they don’t have to prove it. Now, I realize that not all supplements are harmful, but the regulatory loopholes are still far too vast (see many supplements don’t even contain the active ingredient listed on the label above). As far as I’m concerned, I won’t trust any supplement claims unless I’ve done the research myself; and I’ll change my mind if presented with convincing new evidence (for example, I reevaluated my daily multivitamin after new studies showed that they are not only not helpful, they may be harmful. I no longer take a multi.). So be careful, and don’t take the supplement makers’ word for it. There are more damning details in the article, so don’t take my word for it either – read it yourself.

How dietary supplements evade regulation — with dangerous results

2 Comments Daily Read: Pill Poppers

  1. karen

    Ugh! I had no idea. This makes me very angry and sad. My doctors have told me I need to take a multi-vitamin because of some underlying health issues. Now, the question becomes which one is safe to take. And how do I know? There is no way to tell.

  2. Ranthropologist

    That sucks, I’m sorry! I think a lot of these companies are probably being more careful now about their labeling and making sure it’s accurate. I would get your doc’s advice on this one.


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