American adults are big fans of dietary supplements, so Consumer Reports has come up with a list of 15 ingredients that people should avoid. Some of the harmful ingredients on the list are caffeine powder, lobelia, aconite, pennyroyal oil, kava, usnic acid, and yohimbe.
If these sound foreign to you, it’s most likely you haven’t had much experience with supplements because these ingredients were found in many wellness products available both online and in-stores at popular US retailers, such as Costco, CVS, Target, GNC, and Whole Foods.
According to Steve Mister, CEO and President of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the list also features some illegal ingredients and some substances that are not marketed as dietary ingredients.
Several of the ingredients on the list – such as comfrey, caffeine, red yeast rice, and kava – have been flagged as unsafe by the FDA.
Moreover, methylsynephrine, one other item featured by Consumer Reports, does not even meet FDA’s standards for a dietary ingredient. Back in March, the FDA has even sent seven warning letters to companies that were erroneously marketing products containing the ingredient as fit for dietary supplements.
Researchers at Consumer Reports have compiled the list based on adverse-event case reports, analysis of medical studies, and government warnings. The criteria for the ingredients were developed by a six-person panel of dietary supplement experts and doctors.
With the list, Consumer Reports also reminded people they should always talk to their doctors before starting to take any health or dietary supplements. In the last decade only, supplement sales have increased by 81 percent, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.
Their aura of being safer and more natural combined with easy availability compared to prescription drugs has been the main drive behind the raise. However, experts are not even sure how many of the products labeled as dietary supplements are safe for consumers.
Between 2008 and 2011, the FDA has received no less than 6,300 reports of health problems associated with dietary supplements, including 92 deaths, more than 1,000 severe illnesses, and many chronic health conditions.
The recent investigation led by Consumer Reports found that supplements like probiotics, weight loss pills, and vitamins are linked to serious health risks. They can cause seizures, liver failure, heart problems, and kidney failure.