Millions of people include dietary supplements in their diet to give them an added edge in heightening energy, workouts, diets and general health. According to Consumer Reports, a new study is showing that possibly dietary supplements are putting people at serious risk.

The issue begins with no regulation of supplements. They do not have the same regulatory standards that medications do in the US. This lack of any scrutiny is creating problems. The tipoff was difficult and doctors first became aware of an issue as a result of an 8-day old baby. The premature baby was underweight and given a probiotic that was supposed to help microorganisms within the baby’s gut and help him gain weight. He didn’t start weight gain as doctors assumed he would. Instead he died at 8 days old from an infection.

What researchers found was that the probiotic given to the baby was contaminated. It had a deadly fungus that spread throughout his body and eventually a clot reached his aorta. Though this is an example of problems with seemingly “healthy” practices, it isn’t the only one.

Consumer Reports revealed that approximately 94% of physicians frequently recommend vitamins and minerals to patients, and about 45% recommend herbal supplements. About 70% noted that they have supplements available at their office locations for purchase.

According to the Government Accountability Office, from 2008 until 2011 the FDA managed over 6,300 reports of health issues as related from dietary supplements. There were over 90 deaths and more than 1,000 serious illnesses or injuries caused by them.

While many supplements can be safe, the issue remains that lack of any regulatory practice means that false information or even contamination can plague purchases. For anyone planning on using them, be sure to do your own research on the product and know where you are buying it.

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