Issues with the Use of Dietary Supplements
Safety: The U.S. FDA does not require manufacturers to prove a product is safe. They intervene only after evidence accumulates. The herbal stimulant Ephedra (Ma Huang) was common in many supplements but studies found it to increase risks of stroke and psychosis. These results prompted the FDA to ban its use. Consumers should take responsibility to consider the safety of other products before using them.
Efficacy: As long as a company doesnít make unjustified claims, there is no requirements on manufactures to prove that their products actually work.
Product Claims: Claims of specific health benefits are not allowed without proof but products can make general claims about how product may alter structure or function without any proof.
Manufacturing Standards: There is little or no quality control in the dietary supplement industry. The United States Pharmacopeia organization has released standards for purity and potency for vitamins that are similar to those used for medicine, however manufacturers are under no obligation to follow them.
Americanís are always looking for something for nothing, and there are over 3,400 different dietary supplements on the market that make a wide variety of claims. While some of the products have legitimate benefits, the majority are sold with little or no research. These loopholes were created with the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in 1994. Consumers should be aware of the following issues when deciding on a supplement.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, April 1998.