Do you take any dietary supplements to complement or replace food in your diet? If you do, a new government report may have you thinking twice about the pills in your cabinet. According to a report released today (Oct. 3) by the Department of Health and Human Services' Inspector General, 20 percent of dietary supplements on store shelves are illegally labeled or do not live up to the claims they're making.
For the study, the Inspector General's office analyzed 127 weight loss and immune-boosting supplements that investigators purchased online or in retail stores across the country. Of these, they found that 20 percent made illegal claims on their labels stating that they could be used to cure or treat certain diseases. Dozens also lacked the recommended scientific evidence to back up the claims made on the labels.
Of course the fear is not only that consumers are wasting their money but that they are putting their health in jeopardy if they choose a dietary supplement in place of another medical option to treat a disease.
"Consumers rely on a supplement's claims to determine whether the product will provide a desired effect, such as weight loss or immune support," the report said. "Supplements that make disease claims could mislead consumers into using them as replacements for prescription drugs or other treatments for medical conditions, with potentially dangerous results."
The report did not name the individual brands or products that were surveyed, but it did raise a red flag about the dietary supplements currently available on store shelves and the lack of oversight by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in reviewing supplement claims and labeling.
For a different angle on this story: 7 supplements that every woman over 40 should take