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"Dirty Dozen" Supplements Named; Industry Responds

Posted: August 5, 2010

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In other cases, manufacturer error may lead to excess amounts of ingredients in products. That was the case for a Tennessee man who took a supplement and experienced diarrhea, joint pain, hair loss, lung problems, and had fingernails and toenails fall off. In his case, detailed in the report, an inspection of the supplement maker's facilities found the samples had more than 200 times the labeled amount of selenium and up to 17 times the recommended intake of chromium, according to the report, citing U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) information.

Dietary supplements are regulated under the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994. Under an amendment effective in 2007, manufacturers are now required to report serious adverse events.

But Metcalf and others think the FDA needs more regulatory power. ''The FDA should be given more power to yank these things form the market [when found ineffective]," Metcalf says.

Dietary supplements: Industry views

The report is termed ''a little bit sensationalized" by Andrew Shao, PhD, a spokesman for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group.

"Any time you pick adverse experiences from a handful of individuals, you know it is being sensationalized,” he says. “It doesn't represent the totality of the evidence."