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The Importance of Supplement Safety

The Importance of Supplement Safety

In 2002, the two-year-old daughter of Jude Law attended a children’s party at London’s Soho House Club. It was reported that while there, she swallowed a pill she found on the floor that turned out to be ecstasy left over from an event the previous evening. She was rushed to a hospital where she reportedly had her stomach pumped. She was later declared okay and released the next day.

As scary as that incident was, it turns out U.S. poison control centers get a call every 24 minutes regarding over-exposure to dietary supplements. And a study reveals 70 percent of those calls are about kids six and younger who accidently ingested a supplement—typically energy products and yohimbe.

Yohimbe is available as a standardized prescription drug for erectile dysfunction, and that’s a different product than over-the-counter (OTC) yohimbe, which claims to boost performance, aid weight loss and cure high blood pressure, diabetic neuropathy and impotence.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yohimbe is associated with heart attacks, arrhythmia and hypertension, stomach problems, anxiety and seizures. So…

  1. Avoid OTC yohimbe and steer clear of most energy supplements, which can trigger an increased heart rate, headache and mood changes. In kids, they can cause heart and breathing problems, even seizures.
  2. When buying a supplement, look for a seal—from U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF, ConsumerLab.com or UL—that indicates the ingredients have been verified.
  3. Place all supplements in childproof bottles.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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