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Vitamins & Dietary Supplements: Can They Do More Harm Than Good?

Consumer Reports article investigates the hidden dangers associated with taking vitamins, minerals, herbs, and so-called ‘dietary supplements.’

August 14, 2012 – An article published in next month’s issue of Consumer Reports investigates the risks involved with taking vitamins, minerals, herbs, and so-called ‘dietary supplements.’ Despite the fact that nearly half of all Americans use these purportedly all-natural products, the vast majority are unaware of the hidden dangers associated with them. The Consumer Reports article states that a large number of supposedly natural products are laced with active ingredients found in prescription drugs, and that users often experience serious side effects after taking them.

Free Dietary Supplement Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been injured by a dietary supplement, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer of the supplement and we can help.

What’s the problem?

Between 2007 and mid-2012, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) received more than 6,300 adverse event reports (AERS) linked to dietary supplements, vitamins, and herbs. These reports included at least 115 deaths and over 2,100 emergency hospitalizations.

Dr. Jose Mosquera, a medical advisor for Consumer Reports, says a big part of the problem is that consumers believe supplements are safe because they are ‘all natural,’ when in reality this isn’t always the case. Mosquera recommends exercising caution when choosing supplements, and that people should talk to their doctors before beginning a regimen of any such product.

“Supplements and vitamins should never be a substitute for a healthy lifestyle with a nutritional plan,” he says. Mosquera goes on to add that it’s better to get vitamins from healthy eating than from dietary supplements.

Products marketed for bodybuilding, sexual enhancement, and weight loss purposes are the types of supplements that have been found to be most likely laced with adultered drugs. “Protect yourself by trying to avoid these types of supplements, and have a conversation with your doctor about lifestyle changes,” Mosquera says.

Additionally, the high doses of vitamins and minerals found in some supplements present their own set of significant health risks. Consumers who take more than 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of a given nutrient may be at risk of developing adverse side effects.

Adding to the dilemma, existing laws make it difficult for the FDA to regulate the $27 billion-a-year dietary supplement industry. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, most supplement manufacturers do not require approval from the FDA to sell their products, and the administration must conclusively prove that a supplement is unsafe before pulling it off the market.

The Consumer Reports article also points out that the FDA does not require supplements to carry warning labels unless they contain iron as an ingredient. For example, a number of products containing St. John’s Wort fail to warn consumers that it has been found to reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills and anticoagulant medications.

Additionally, the article says that no dietary supplement has been found to cure a major disease. Even Omega-3, which was once widely believed to reduce the risk of heart disease, may actually be only marginally effective in this area.

According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), more than 150 million Americans – roughly half the nation’s population – take dietary supplements each year.

“Consumers need to be savvy and buy from companies with strong brand reputations or look for those that have third party certification on their labels,” the council says. “It is also important for consumers to talk to their health care professionals and understand that dietary supplements are intended to supplement a healthy diet and do not serve as substitutes for drugs.”

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Do I Have a Dietary Supplement Lawsuit?

The Product Liability & Defective Drug Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in dietary supplement lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury cases in all 50 states.

Free Dietary Supplement Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury after taking a dietary supplement, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a dietary supplement injury suit and we can help.

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