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Banned Ingredients Still Found in Supplements

Banned Ingredients Still Found in Supplements

Don’t believe everything you hear when it comes to health supplements. It’s important to sleuth out -- and avoid -- harmful products advertised on TV, the Internet and sold on store shelves. In 2013 we reported the FDA had recalled 27 dietary supplements containing banned ingredients.

However, a report in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, reveals that tests on those 27 recalled supplements show 60% still contain the same or similar banned ingredients. JAMA is calling for more enforcement muscle for the agency, which has been hampered by budget cuts. We say great idea! But in the meantime, it’s up to you to steer clear of these risky products with these two tips:

  1. Read labels. They don’t always list the true ingredients, but it’s a good place to start. Watch out for sibutramine (a discontinued weight-loss drug that causes heart problems) or phenolphthalein (a known carcinogen).
  2. Pay attention to side effects. Two anabolic steroids — dimethazine and methasterone have shown up in a product (but not on the label) claiming to be a vitamin B supplement! Women report missed periods and facial hair, men experience fatigue and impotence. If you’re taking something that makes you feel “off”, stop. Call your doc and the FDA.

You don't need to mess with supplements to reach your health goals. If you really want to get rid of excess weight and build muscle go for at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily, aim to walk 10,000 steps, eat up to nine servings of fruits and veggies every day and get around eight hours of sleep a night.

Medically reviewed in April 2020.

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