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Do Hidden Dangers Lurk in Over-the-Counter Supplements?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Headlines everywhere are screeching the news: Hundreds of over-the-counter supplements contain unsafe, unstudied, hidden active ingredients! And, the dangers are so serious that it “lays a foundation for ongoing enforcement work in this area, by the FDA and other partner agencies,” NBC reports.

This is important news — but did you put on the brakes long enough to see that the supplements they’re talking about fall mostly in three categories that promise instant weight loss, big muscles or a great night in the bedroom? The problem with “hot” headlines that don’t specify what it is the bulk of an article is about is that many readers don’t get far enough into an article to see what the headlines really mean.

In this instance, 776 products marketed as dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, building muscle and sexual function had ingredients in them that shouldn’t be. That is serious, and yes, something should be done about it, especially when you consider that so-called “energy” supplements also can be dangerous. But does it mean that the other 50,000 to 80,000 supplements on the market should shoulder the blame for the sins of a fraction?

The important thing is to take notice of magic promises and steer clear of them. If a supplement promises you the most beautiful night in the bedroom ever, BEWARE! If a pill bottle claims you’ll be skinny in a week, BEWARE! And if another pill or shot of a liquid claims you’ll bulk up and speed around with lots of energy, again, BEWARE! Magic like that just doesn’t come in a bottle. In fact, it doesn’t exist at all.

While I believe the best way to get your vitamins is through your diet, I admit that I do sell supplements, and the reason for that is that I believe quality counts, and quality is something I want to offer you. But first, repeat after me: As a general rule, the better and more wholesome your diet, the fewer supplements you will need. Eating real food, ideally organically grown to avoid pesticide exposure, is really the most appropriate way to ensure you're getting all the nutrients your body needs.

Second, if you need help in learning what’s best to eat to get all the vitamins you need, my free nutritional plan not only can explain it, but also can give you details on making the most of the supplements you do choose to take.

Next, if you are going to take dietary supplements, keep in mind that the more supplements you take, the more complicated it gets to get it right. And “getting it right” includes the timing of when you take the supplements: Are you taking each one at the most appropriate time and in the correct combination — and in the proper ratio — with other nutrients? My article, “Friendly User’s Guide for the Timing of Nutritional Supplements,” can help with this — with no magic involved.

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