Dr. Oz and What You Need to Know About Supplements

© 2014 Dr. Sharon Norling

Do you really need supplements?

The only way our bodies function is by the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. No one eats perfectly. Stress, toxins, processed foods, fast foods, the microwave and the Standard American Diet all contribute to nutrient deficiencies. In addition, individuals may have food restrictions such gluten sensitivities, food allergies or sensitivities, or gastrointestinal issues restricting digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Personal preferences and specific diets such as vegetarian, vegan, Mediterranean, and Paleo are also factors. To supplement what our bodies need to function well and provide us with energy almost all of us need a multivitamin, perhaps fish oil, and antioxidants.

You can have a specific blood test to determine the level of the nutrients in your body. You will then know more precisely what you need for your body. This is personalized medicine.

But supplements can be much more than just vitamins and minerals. As we learned in June it is not OK to make supplement claims. Dr. Mehmet Oz testified before the US Senate to answer questions regarding making claims about promoting weight loss products which some experts have called unscientific claims. Terms he used were “magic weight –loss cure” and “the No. 1 miracle in a bottle”.

According to the FDA “a product sold as a dietary supplement and promoted on its label as a treatment, prevention or a cure for a specific disease or condition would be considered and unapproved – and thus illegal – drug. To maintain the product’s status as a dietary supplement, the label and labeling must be consistent with the provisions in the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.”

When a supplement manufacturer makes a claim on a dietary supplement label of the role of a nutrient or dietary supplement they must include a disclaimer. “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” The manufacturer is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and truthfulness of these claims; they are not approved by the FDA.

It is interesting because generally prescribed conventional pharmaceutical drugs do not make these claims either. They may say, “supports, heals, decreases, alleviates” or site percentages of positive outcomes. This, of course, is because the effectiveness of any drug or supplements is also based on the individual genetic variations, lifestyle choices, and nutrient status.

The FDA can have a supplement removed from the market only if it proves the supplement is unsafe. A supplement can be on the market for years before enough individuals had adverse side effects to prove it’s unsafe.

This is exactly how drugs can be removed from the market. We all know about pharmaceutical drugs removed because they were shown to be harmful after being approved by the FDA and on the market for years. Here are a few…..

Accutane: 27 years. Over 7,000 lawsuits were filed against the manufacturer over the side effects including a $10.5 million verdict and two $9 million verdicts.

Baycol: 3 years. Rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of muscle fibers) which led to kidney failure; 52 deaths (31 in the US) worldwide; 385 nonfatal cases

Darvon and Darvocet: 55 years. Serious toxicity to the heart; between 1981 and 1999 there were over 2,110 deaths reported

Meridia: 13 years. An appetite suppressant. Serious toxicity to the heart; between 1981 and 1999 there were over 2,110 deaths reported

Vioxx: 5.3 years. Pain relief. Linked to about 27,785 heart attacks or sudden cardiac deaths between May 20, 1999 and 2003

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