Beware of Weight Loss Supplements
The Dangers of Weight Loss Supplements
Beware of the dangers of weight loss supplements.
Dietary Supplement manufactures do not have to get FDA approval for their products like pharmaceutical companies do for prescription medications. This means that they are not regulated or tested to the FDA standards. These companies do not have to prove that their products work or that they are even safe for the consumers. In 1994, Congress passed a law that regulates these supplements like foods, not drugs. This law opened the door for this market to grow exponentially. It increased the number of supplements available from 4000 to approximately 85,000.
The ingredients to these weight loss supplements sound simple, like bitter orange or guarana seed extract, and are typically plant based. Don’t let that fool you. They can still be dangerous. A purported use for bitter orange is weight loss. That is because it contains synephrine which is very similar to ephedrine. Ephedrine was banned by the FDA in 2004. It can cause fainting, heart rhythm disorders, heart attack, stroke, and death. The other common ingredient in these supplements, Guarana seed extract, contains caffeine known to cause insomnia, anxiety, and increased heart rate.
These companies make exaggerated claims even though it is against the law. There is legally no scientific backup required to support their claims. Products advertised as “all natural” may actually contain Rx drugs. According to the FDA, in the past two years manufactures have voluntarily recalled 40 weight loss supplements that contained sibutramine (Meridia) which is a prescription drug.
If an advertisement sounds too good to be true it probably is – be skeptical. Don’t be afraid to lose weight the ‘healthy’ way.
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GHP does not advocate the use of OTC supplements as they are not regulated by the FDA in the same way as prescription medications are.
By: Nancy Hudenko, PA-C, Grand Health Partners
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