A common question patients ask their Rochester nutritionist is about specific nutritional supplements. The supplement market can be a shady place and misplaced trust in these stores can have serious consequences. Let’s talk about some of the most common myths about dietary and nutritional supplements.
Myth 1: Supplements must be approved by a government agency
In 1994 the government changed the classification of dietary supplements and they no longer need approval by the FDA before distribution. Instead, the agency relies on the individual manufacturers to provide evidence of their safety. If the FDA finds that a supplement is unsafe, it does have the power to remove it from the market. Unfortunately, at that point it may be too late for the people who have already had negative side effects from consuming the supplement.
Myth 2: Manufacturers must warn of potential side effects
FDA regulations only require a supplement to have the name of the product, the name of the manufacturer, and an accurate ingredient list. There is no regulation that requires a list of possible side effects of any ingredient that may be in the product. The serving size of these products is also determined by the manufacturer with no oversight by the FDA.
Myth 3: Manufacturers must show proof of effectiveness through clinical study
When the new FDA classification went into effect in 1994, the new rules stipulated that manufacturers only need to prove the effectiveness of an ingredient in a newly developed supplement. Very rarely do manufacturers use completely new ingredients; this allows them to cherry-pick previously done studies for their benefit. In the rare case that a new ingredient is being used, the FDA places the responsibility for research on the manufacturer.
Is the lack of regulation putting people at risk?
The FDA estimates that weight loss supplements are responsible for around 50,000 adverse effects each year - the most common of them being liver and kidney damage. One research study backed a particular weight loss supplement but it turned out that the company that made that supplement paid for the study! The study had only 35 participants and 3 reported adverse effects such as dry mouth and insomnia. When the product was released to the public, almost 15,000 people reported adverse effects. By the time the FDA pulled the product off the shelf, 92 people had died.
A recent study wanted to see how accurate these companies were with their product description. The study found that only 2 out of 12 companies were accurate in their product ingredient descriptions. Many contained none of the active ingredients being advertised on the label and instead were full of cheap fillers like rice powder. The study didn’t just look at random supplement companies on the internet. These products were sold at Walmart, Target, GNC, CVS, and Walgreens around the United States.
If you have questions about any supplements on the market today feel free to discuss them with your Rochester nutritionist. Here at Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic, our providers have extensive knowledge in nutrition and would be more than happy to advise on the effectiveness and safety of any supplements you are unsure of. Our office also sells high-quality supplements from trusted and well-renowned companies. If you are interested in learning more about nutrition, ask your chiropractor in Rochester for a free nutritional consultation.