Every year, Americans spend $28 billion on potions that we imbue with magical powers. We mean, of course, vitamin pills and supplements. We take them by the handful even though study after study has showed us that for people who have a deficiency, vitamin pills don’t do very much good, and may harm our health in the long run. Yes, harm. [More]
Americans are buying a lot of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, which are intended to help ease the pain of or prevent symptoms from arthritis. The problem is that there’s no proof that the pills do any good…and tests from our lab-coated cousins down the hall at Consumer Reports showed that many brands don’t even contain the whole dose claimed on the label. [More]
One of the fun things about working in the media is definitely reading the odd press releases and story pitches that cross my inbox every day. Our colleagues over at Consumer Reports received a pitch in their mailbox about a dietary supplement that’s supposed to “prevent and reverse” gray hair. Wait, that’s a thing? Not only is it a thing, but someone was pushing it as a great Mother’s Day gift. [More]
It’s not just that the federal government doesn’t want the marketers of dietary supplements to just make up what their products can do for consumers, according to a new study on the prevalence of weight loss and immune system supplement, the Department of Health and Human Services warns that it could actually be harmful to our health to buy in to the hype. The agency just released a new report saying that around 20% of 127 different supplements it investigated made false and illegal claims to cure or treat diseases. [More]
Cheryl takes iron supplements. She has iron deficiency anemia, and the vast majority of iron supplements on the market make her ill. She’s come to rely on Slow-Fe, made by Novartis, to keep her iron levels up and her digestive system functioning. Then Slow-Fe disappeared. Her regular pharmacist can’t find any to order, and the only sources online are re-sellers with expired products. Remembering our past coverage of catastrophic OB tampon, Eggo waffle, and Morningstar veggie dog shortages, Cheryl wrote to us, asking for help. Could we help her figure out where her precious iron had gone? [More]
Those daily vitamin supplements may not be doing as much good as you think, and may in fact harm you. A committee of medical experts from the Institute of Medicine released a report that says excessive amounts of calcium and vitamin D aren’t helpful. [More]
We Americans do love our dietary supplements. More than half of the adult population have taken them to stay healthy, lose weight, gain an edge in sports or in the bedroom, and avoid using prescription drugs. In 2009, we spent $26.7 billion on them, according to the Nutrition Business Journal, a trade publication. What consumers might not realize, though, is that supplement manufacturers routinely, and legally, sell their products without first having to demonstrate that they are safe and effective. Inside, Consumer Reports Health lists 12 supplements linked by clinical research or case reports to serious side effects
Are you tired of forgetting whether you should add creatine or cinnamon to your kale smoothie? Do you worry that the milk thistle you’ve rubbed on your genitals isn’t helping? The “Snake Oil?” graphic at informationisbeautiful.net can help you out–it provides a graphical overview of 166 different health supplements and arranges them according to how much evidence there is that they actually work. [More]
Sure, there are plenty of websites out there touting colloidal silver as a miracle cure for every disease in existence. This would be great if it actually worked. Now that flu season looms and H1N1/swine flu panic has returned to the nation, Consumer Reports Health would like to remind you that no, you can’t cure chronic or communicable diseases with colloidal silver. Plus, it might turn your skin blue.
In the wake of FDA warnings about steroids in nutritional supplements, federal officials are studying ways to improve safety in dietary supplements. Mean time, we’ve got a few consumer tips for those of you who take supplements, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:
Have you taken a bar exam prep course since 2001? Have you shopped at Cache, bought an HDTV, or used creatine supplements? You just might be eligible for one of several recently settled lawsuits.
You should avoid nutritional supplements that claim to have steroid-like effects, no matter how many flames are pictured on the label. Earlier this week, the FDA sent a warning letter to Americell-Labs, the manufacturer of many popular lines of such supplements, and also warned consumers to stay away from the products. The “supplements” claim to act a little too much like steroids, and should be tested and sold as drugs if they are, y’know, drugs. If they’re anabolic steroids, they shouldn’t be sold at all.
Remember the class-action lawsuit against the makers of cold-and-flu-preventing magic potion Airborne? Airborne claimed that it could prevent or shorten colds and flus, without any actual scientific evidence to back those claims up.
People love their pets and want the best for them. That includes medical treatment, and loving, well-meaning pet owners buy over-the-counter supplements for their critters’ aching joints. Unfortunately, nutritional supplements for humans don’t get a lot of scrutiny, and those intended for pets get even less. A study by ConsumerLab.com discovered that arthritis supplements for dogs, cats, and horses not only didn’t contain the quantity of active ingredients promised, but also contained…other things.
Bryan, a longtime Naked Juice customer, noticed that that Strawberry Kiwi Kick brand he always bought had a different colored cap. He writes, “Alas, the ‘Kick’ is no more. Gone are the supplements, including plain ol’ Vitamin C. Strawberry Kiwi Kick is just fruit juice.” When he contacted them to complain, they responded that their “devotees” preferred it that way, and they sent him a coupon and a temporary tattoo. Because if there’s anything that says “we take your input seriously,” it’s a temporary tattoo. (Or maybe they’re trying to tell him what they expect of real devotees.)
Hooray! Steve Warshak, the snake oil salesman responsible for Enzyte (and consequently for those awful “Smiling Bob” ads) was found guilty today of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. So was his mom.