Are Dietary Supplements As Safe As We Think?

A meal like this could send you straight to the ER. 

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Despite propulsion from health-positive marketing messages, dietary supplements and vitamins send a significant number of people to the emergency room. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that of the 23,000 supplement-related ER visits each year, more than a quarter involve teens and young adults looking for ways to stay awake, lose weight, or gain muscle.

Labels for weight-loss and energy products often boast healthy buzzwords like “natural” and “herbal,” but they fail to tell the whole truth. In addition to their “organic” components, the pills and powders have a bad reputation for containing off-the-market prescription drug ingredients that can cause heart palpitations, increased heartbeat, and chest pain.

In the study, the research team noted the loophole: 

“Unlike over-the-counter or prescription medications, there are no requirements to identify adverse effects on dietary-supplement packaging.”

It’s bad enough that product manufactures can get away with dishonest labeling, but it's even worse that the FDA can’t even step in to help. 

Thanks (or no thanks) to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, vitamins and supplements cannot be examined prior to their market debut. The FDA can issue a warning once a product is found to be dangerous—but by that point, it may be too late.

With hard work and dedication, teens can get the results they’re looking for solely by learning to incorporate proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep into their daily routines. Good health doesn't involve shortcuts.

For more about fitness and healthy eating, visit the resources outlined in our list of the 33 best websites for teen health.