Roughly 1,000 people under the age of 25 reported medical issues linked to supplement use between 2005 and 2015. Food and Drug Administration records revealed 40 percent of these patients experienced severe health events, such as hospital visits or disability, Time reported. Furthermore, 166 hospitalizations and 22 deaths were linked to supplements. It’s worth noting this study was conducted in younger people, and the findings don’t reflect the dangers of supplement use in older adults.
Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned, particularly if you take medications.
“Many supplements can interact with medications people are taking, especially for their hearts,” Dr. John Whyte, chief medical officer at WebMD, told Men’s Health.
“In addition, sometimes supplements have traces of drugs that are not labeled on the product.”
Of course, not every supplement is dangerous. Products marketed for weight loss, muscle building and energy increased the risk of adverse side effects more than vitamins, the authors of the study wrote.
This isn’t the first time supplements have been called dangerous. In April, researchers found some bodybuilding supplements contained anabolic steroids that were not included in the label, according to a study published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Synthetic steroids mimic testosterone but have some very unpleasant side effects: liver damage, cancerous tumors, premature balding and smaller testicles, to name just a few. Men who took bodybuilding supplements laced with steroids experienced liver problems, abdominal pain and nausea linked to supplement use, scientists found.
This is a good reminder that there’s no way of knowing exactly what’s in your supplements. The Food & Drug Administration regulates these items as food and investigates claims after products are already on the market.