Tainted Supplements Still Available

Supplements Loaded With Banned Drugs Stull Available After FDA Recall


For JAMA, (Journal of the American Medical Society – October 23).

A group of doctors from Boston decided to look into a variety of over the counter supplements that the FDASupplementsBanned had recalled because they were adulterated with ‘banned pharmaceutical ingredients’. So they bought the supplements from the usual providers to see if the banned substances had been removed. They bought some from online retailers and some straight form the manufacturers sites. On average, their purchases were over three years after the FDA recall, so there was ample time for the manufacturers to get their act together.

Astonishingly, 67% of the supplements still had the banned adulterant.

Someone is certainly asleep at the wheel here.

Most people, including most doctors, have an “it may not help, but it won’t hurt” attitude when if comes to supplements. In the past, I recommended supplements, but around 10 years ago, I began shortening the list. It is now down to one, vitamin D, and I am not 100% sure on that one either.

Besides the rather scary fact that the supplement may contain something rather different from what it claims, there are two other reasons to be very wary:

First, you body is a very well regulated biological machine. It knows precisely what it needs and usually can make or get it it from the food we eat. Any attempts to fiddle with this invariable backfire. For instance, vitamin C was supposed to chase down and gobble the ‘free-radicals’. It does. However, those free radicals were regulated and were serving a specific purpose, which vitamin C duly derailed. In fact, several studies have shown that even moderate amounts can do some damage. So frequently there are unexpected negative side effect.

Second, the supplement usually has little of no positive effect. For vitamin C, there is, in fact, no evidence that it wards off or speeds recovery from a cold, although this is commonly believed.

Supplements are a $28 billion a year business. Few industries have delivered so little for so much. If the supplement industry were to disappear tomorrow, virtually no one would be harmed, but many would be saved. Don’t get me started on the bizarre contaminants I have found in my patients. If my patient’s insist on taking supplements I check their urine by mass-spectroscopy. We have found everything from mercury to uranium in their urine samples.

  3 comments for “Tainted Supplements Still Available

  1. SkiForever
    December 1, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Hopefully you will soon treat us to your review of the effects of specific supplements.

  2. Ken
    January 2, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Any contaminants found in vitamin D (only) takers?

    • January 4, 2015 at 6:45 pm

      Hi Ken,

      So far no. These tend to be from the US and German based pharmaceutical companies and are thus produced under more stringent controls. If you want to use more generic sources I would get a urine mass spectroscopic analysis done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *