Some Long Island-manufactured vitamin supplements are contaminated with anabolic steroids, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The recent discovery poses important questions: How beneficial are vitamin supplements? What are the potential risks from consuming them?
In the past, the FDA has found ingredients like lead, mercury and prescription medicine as contaminants in vitamin supplements. Manufacturers can easily contaminate them. Because the products are classified as food, they don’t undergo the same safety and quality tests as prescription drugs.
Given the widespread use of vitamin supplements, it is time to reconsider testing them. Stronger standards would help avoid situations like this.
Furthermore, those considering taking a vitamin supplement should consult with a doctor first. Patients always should tell their physicians which supplements they take–just like they inform their doctors about what prescription medications they consume.Targeted Use for Vitamin Supplements
Clearly, doctors recommend vitamin supplements for certain patients. For example, obstetricians often encourage pregnant women to take folic acid because scientific studies have proven it to be beneficial for the mother and developing child.
For the average person, though, there is slight basis for encouraging the use of dietary supplements, because there is little science that proves they’re helpful. An otherwise healthy person who takes a multivitamin won’t likely find meaningful benefit. A healthy diet and regular exercise, on the other hand, are proven to promote good health.
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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