Will the FDA Regulate Supplement Safety?

Will the FDA Regulate Supplement Safety?

Taking supplements incorrectly can be detrimental to your health.

The teaser for the 2018 film Vitamania, a documentary about the history of supplements, recounts a disastrous 1913 Antarctic trek. The last two remaining explorers, Mawson and Mertz, had to slaughter their Huskies for food. Later, they became progressively ill, with drying and fissuring of the skin and, for Mertz, madness and death. There’s speculation that eating the dogs’ liver, packed with vitamin A, gave the mis-adventurers a condition called hypervitaminosis A.

These days, hypervitaminosis A mostly happens when someone takes too much vitamin A for too long. But that’s just one of the hazards of taking supplements. For example, according to the NIH, “products labeled as kava have been linked to the development of . . . acute liver injury which can be severe and even fatal.”

Supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA—they’re only able to issue alerts and recalls after dangerous products appear on the market—but the agency recently announced it would explore improving communication about harmful ingredients and reform regulatory guidelines that ensure product safety. The question: How good a job will they do?

For now, look for a seal from U.S. Pharmacopia, NSF International or certifying a supplement isn’t contaminated and the contents are verified. And rely on Dr. Mike’s Fab8+, including probiotics, vitamin D, omega-3 and 7, and coenzyme Q10. More than four human studies have shown the benefits of taking them regularly. And discuss all supplements with your doctor so you don’t have negative interactions with other supplements or meds you’re taking.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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