A recent organization report seeks to inform patients and the common public about the life-threatening situations caused by dietary supplements. According to researchers, death could be a common factor when taking these medications.

In recent years, a great amount of death cases related to dietary supplements has been reported in the United States. In fact, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), has reported at least 92 deaths due to these medications. The Consumer Reports organization, recently revealed a shocking case of a deceased newborn, exposed to a risky dietary supplement.

Dietary supplements can kill you
CDC: “Use of dietary supplements is common among the U.S. adult population. Over 40% used supplements in 1988–1994, and over one-half in 2003–2006.” Image credit: Expert Beacon.

The newborn arrived at the Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, on 2014, where he passed away after being exposed to an infection, just eight days after being born.

Baby Calvin, had been born premature, and doctors gave him a daily dose of a probiotic to maintain the body’s natural balance of gut microorganism. Yet, the supplement caused him a deadly infection.

Since baby Calvin’s case, a great amount of attention has been given to the consequences of taking dietary supplements. The most recent report aims to create awareness to the general public.

What are dietary supplements?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dietary supplements are common products intended to contribute to a daily diet, commonly containing more than one component.

These products include vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids and several other components sold in the market to relief specifical aches or contribute to the patient’s situation.

Dietary supplements can kill you
CDC: “Dietary supplements can contain nutrients in amounts as high as or higher than the Institute of Medicine’s Recommended Dietary Reference Intakes.” Image credit: Getty Images.

In the United States, there are more than 50,000 dietary supplements available in the market and almost half of the population consume them.  According to the CDC, over 40% of the adult population in the U.S use these products.

In the United States, supplements are treated as vitamins and in some cases as natural medication, which means, that the regulations of these products are softer than with regular medicine. Making them easier to get a hold to and being less supervised.

From weight loss to more energy, the products that were once sitting on the vitamins shelf are now migrating even to the physician’s office and being treated as medicine.

The recent report issued a statement about the dangers of many components in these products that could cause consequences in people administering them and in some cases, it could lead to death.

“Not only the advertised ingredients of some supplements are potentially dangerous, but because of the way they’re regulated you often have no idea what you’re actually ingesting,” said Pieter Cohen, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard.


Dangers of dietary supplements

The recent investigation has concluded that there at least 15 dangerous components in common dietary supplements. Consequences include liver failure, kidney failure, heart problems, seizures, and death.

Aconite is one of the components found in supplements. It is commonly used to relieve inflammation and joint pain. Researchers have found that it could cause vomiting, heart problems, paralysis, and death.

People searching to gain a smaller waistline might purchase products containing chaparral since it helps to reduce body mass and reduces inflammation. People using these products could also be facing liver damage and death.

Dietary supplements can kill you
NIH: “Dietary supplements contain a variety of ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs or other botanicals.” Image credit: Tumbarumba Creek.

A very common component in the market is green tea extract powder, which helps with dizziness and reduces the absorption of iron. Yet, it could cause ringing in the ear, elevation of the heart rate and liver damage.

Other products have been found to contain strong carcinogens, for example, products with coltsfoot which aims to reduce asthma and sore throats.

The list of dangerous components also includes caffeine powder, comfrey, germander, greater celandine, Kava, lobelia, Methylsynephrine, Pennyroyal Oil, red yeast rice, usnic acid and Yohimbe.

A recent investigation has found that over 23,000 cases have been reported in the country’s E.R’s due to complications over these products. The industry seems to think otherwise.

As CBS News reports, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, in the representation of the dietary supplement industry, has stated that these products are safe and play a valuable role in the healthy lifestyle of Americans.

Physicians are also recommending supplements to their patients, as a way to contribute to their healthy lifestyle, without consideration of the health-risking ingredients that have not passed FDA regulations.

According to the recent report, over 94 percent of the population in a physician survey, recommended dietary supplements such as vitamins or minerals to their patients. Meanwhile, 7 percent sell the products in their offices.

Controversy over the matter has emerged, and more cases of health damages continue to hit the spotlight, yet the recent report tries to give a wider approach to the subject to the public.

Since dietary supplements are currently under the eye of the hurricane, organizations such as the CDC are releasing information about the consequences or studies made on the subject. It is still unknown whether supplements will be treated as medicine or continue to be available for everyone.

The Consumer Reports Organization, recommends the general public ask their physicians before purchasing any related product.

Source: Consumer Reports