A new study in The New England Journal of Medicine states that nearly 23,000 people visit hospital emergency rooms each year because of dietary supplements.
Though the most common was due to weight loss and energy supplements, plenty of others put the public at risk also, because many over-the-counter dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Existing regulations exempt supplements from the rigorous testing and standard medicines have to undergo (read more on the American Council on Science and Health's concern over supplements here) so there's no way to tell if a supplement in a health food store or purchased on the Internet is safe, or even if it is the real supplement.
Mayo Clinic nutritionist Dr. Donald Hensrud says the public should also be cautious about:
- B6 (pyridoxine) and niacin, when taken in large amounts
- Beta-carotene, particularly in smokers and former smokers
- Vitamins A and E, unless prescribed by a physician