People who buy vitamin supplements do so with the best intentions–to make themselves and their families healthier. The irony is, they may be safer without them: Neglect or misconduct by manufacturers and distributors often causescontamination of vitamin supplements.
Tainted supplements aren’t only a local problem. Yesterday’s Newsday article about the vast number of vitamin supplement suppliers that don’t follow US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guidelines serves as yet another call for more regulation of these products–and stronger vigilance by the people who consume them.
Regulation for vitamin supplements should increase and supplement buyers should be wary of the hazards the products may pose.
Whether it’s anabolic steroids, prescription medication, lead or mercury, there is a long history of tainted vitamin supplements. Since they are classified as food, the FDA can’t subject vitamin supplements to the same strict guidelines required for prescription medications.Buyer Beware
Consult with your doctor first if you’re considering taking a vitamin supplement. Most people can achieve a healthier life with regular exercise and nutritious food, with no need for a supplement. If a medical condition makes certain vitamin supplements necessary, take them under a physician’s care and supervision.
In any case, be sure the label shows that an independent organization has tested the product or some other indication of quality measures. While this is not a guarantee that the product has been adequately tested, it is a good start.
This post was written by Ken Spaeth, MD, director of the occupational and environmental medicine center at the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
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