Weight-Loss Dietary Supplements: Ask Doctor First
Consider this: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate weight-loss dietary supplements because they aren’t considered medicine. In fact, the FDA does not regulate vitamins, minerals, herbs, creatine or weight-loss pills. It’s important to remember that many dietary supplements have serious side effects. They can interfere with prescribed medications.
FDA officials will step in to investigate certain products if people file complaints. So far, they’ve found hidden drug ingredients in more than 100 products. Some contained blood pressure or seizure drugs. One drug, sibutramine, had been previously pulled from the prescription drug market because it increased the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Finally, if you’re considering taking a dietary supplement, always check with your doctor first. Be sure to show them the packaging so they know all the ingredients listed.
Weight-Loss Dietary Supplements Can Pose Risks
Some weight-loss dietary supplements include:
Ephedra – Also called ma huang, ephedra can cause high blood pressure and stress the heart. Ephedra comes from plants. The active ingredient is called ephedrine. While it can cause short-term weight loss, it can also have serious side effects. The FDA banned the sale of dietary products containing ephedra in the United States in 2004.
Chromium – Sold as a dietary supplement to reduce body fat, no studies prove a weight-loss benefit from chromium.
Diuretics and Herbal Laxatives – These dietary supplements do not help people lose fat. They do, however, make people lose water weight, which can lower your body’s levels of potassium. This can lead to heart and muscle problems.
Hoodia – Although no large-scale studies on humans show that hoodia is effective or safe, companies claim that hoodia is an appetite suppressant. Hoodia comes from a cactus.
Source: National Institutes of Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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