Despite repeated warnings and recalls, Americans spend a whopping $14 billon a year on dietary supplements – up from $8 billion just four years ago – to treat a diversity of ailments, including colds, arthritis and immune system problems, as well as to promote weight loss.
Yet according to a new government report, tens of thousands of Americans – many of them children and young adults – are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for problems caused by these dietary supplements, which include vitamins, minerals and herbal remedies.
While the Food and Drug Administration regularly recalls dietary supplements found to contain banned substances, according to the report – recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine – problems still persist.
The report, which consists of CDC data collected from emergency rooms nationwide, reveals that common complications triggered by supplements can include heart problems such as irregular or rapid heartbeat or chest pain.
“Weight-loss or energy products caused more than half these visits, commonly for cardiac symptoms,” researchers noted.
Although supplements are not supposed to contain active drug products, many do in fact contain prescription drugs, according to FDA reports. Supplements Send Thousands to ER
The CDC analysis, based on data collected between 2004 and 2013, is the first national estimate of complications that result from using dietary supplements.