Dietary Supplement :: Safety of dietary supplements

A research study questioned the popularity, effectiveness, and safety of dietary supplements in general.

Sales of dietary supplements have increased nearly 80% since 1994, with annual sales of more than $14 billion, and it is estimated that 100 million Americans purchase dietary supplements each year (Scally and Freeway 2000; Blendon et al 2001).
Despite the rapid growth of the industry, questions remain as to the effectiveness and safety of these supplements since many have not undergone adequate clinical trials (Fillmore et al 1999; Ziesel 1999).

For example, two popular supplements, Ultra Burn? and Fat Trapper?, contain substances which have been shown to be potentially harmful (Schardt 1999).

One of the active ingredients in Ultra Burn? is hydroxycitric acid, which has been shown in clinical trials to cause testicular atrophy in laboratory animals.

Fat Trapper? contains a product made from chitin which binds to fat and substances which are lipid-soluble, not only preventing the absorption of fats from the diet but also preventing the absorption of lipid-soluble nutrients like vitamins D and E.

Another popular supplement, Hydroxycut?, contains ephedra, which has been linked to heart attack, stroke, seizure, and psychosis (Haller and Benowitz 2000).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received reports of more than 80 deaths linked to the use of ephedra (Smith 2001).

While the use of hGH for adults with such conditions as pituitary insufficiency or acquired immune deficiency syndrome has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and preliminary studies indicate hGH has beneficial effects on body composition, serum lipid concentration, bone mineral density, muscle strength, and endurance, the use of natural or synthetic (recombinant) hGH for “normal” individuals has not yet been approved (Vance 1998; Mulligan et al 1999).

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