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Dietary Supplements: Risks, Side Effects and Sometimes, Lack of Proper FDA Warnings

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More than 23,000 visits to emergency rooms occur annually due to complications from taking dietary supplements such as herbal or complementary nutritional products, vitamins, and minerals, according to scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who coauthored the study. About 2,154 of the visits resulted in hospitalizations, the scientists reported.

The ER visits commonly involved young adults between ages 20 and 34 who’d taken weight loss or energy products. The most common symptoms were chest pain, palpitations, and elevated heart rate.  In other cases, as many as 20 percent, the supplements have been ingested by unsupervised minors.

A CBS news report details the results of a recent Harvard study on supplements aimed toward weight loss and enhanced athletic performance.  Researchers found a amphetamine-like substance known as BMPEA in products containing Acacia rigidula.  This comes two years after health officials warned against BMPEA, the “designer stimulant” that’s often labeled as a plant extract.

This substance, BMPEA has not been tested on humans, but has been shown to increase blood pressure in cats and dogs.

In this report, Assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and dietary supplement expert Dr. Pieter Cohen is quoted stating, ” the FDA ‘completely dropped the ball’ in their responsibility to prevent the inclusion of dangerous ingredients in supplements….there is not a single weight loss supplement on the market that is legal and that has been shown to lead to weight loss in humans.”

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a trade association that oversees over 150 companies involved with the supplement industry said they “share the concerns of Dr. Pieter Cohen.”

A few weeks ago, “herbal Viagra” played a part in the collapse of NBA Star Lamar Odum (in addition to cocaine). Odum apparently purchased these herbal sexual performance enhancing pills called “Reload” from a brothel in Las Vegas during a multi-day stay at said brothel.   The brothel owner told the Washington Post, “It’s an herbal supplement that gives you energy…They say it’s for erectile dysfunction. Basically, it gives you more energy. It’s an over-the-counter speedy kind of product … the pill form of an energy drink.” Two years ago, the FDA issued a warning that Reload “contains [a] hidden drug ingredient” that could lead to dangerous reactions.  Odum  remains hospitalized in Las Vegas and was at first placed on life support. He slowly became conscious a few days after his collapse, but remains hospitalized in intensive care. Odum apparently has months of therapy and rehab ahead of him.

When it comes to athletic performance and weight loss, there is no replacement for a proper diet and exercise. If you choose supplements, do your research, read labels, and be safe!

 

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  1. Helen says:
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    […] Dietary Supplements: Risks, Side Effects and Sometimes, Lack of Proper FDA Warnings – It’s an over-the-counter speedy kind of product … the pill form of an energy drink.” Two years ago … there is no replacement for a proper diet and exercise. If you choose supplements, do your research, read labels … […]