The burden of ensuring the safety of supplements, according to the DSHEA is not the Federal Government's responsibility. It is, instead, up to the manufacturer.
Supplements in this legislation were broadly defined as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and other products that don't contain approved pharmaceutical drugs and don't claim to treat disease.
And, how have the manufacturers done in ensuring the safety of their consumers? Well, while most manufacturers have done a fair job, a few of the more aggressive manufacturers, those primarily serving the more aggressive consumers, have done rather poorly, and in fact may have even killed a few people along the way!
Here are a few failures:
- In 2002 Ephedra and Creatine were linked to several athlete deaths. Ephedra, and it's derivative, Ephedrine were then banned in 2004 following the 2003 death of Orioles pitcher Steve Belcher.
- In 2005 there was a lot of noise about the effects of artificial sweetener (and FDA Approved) Aspartame's link to sudden cardiac arrest.
- Then, just a few weeks ago, on May 1st, Hydroxycut products were pulled from the shelves following the death of a teenager and dozens of cases of liver damage.
Even more frightening is the fact that the manufacturing of supplements is completely unregulated. Check out this re posting of an article in this Month's Sports Illustrated Magazine. Are you buying supplements from or designed by a former auto body restorer with no expertise in nutrition, chemistry, or physiology?
What to do?
First, read the nutrition and ingredients label on the product before you put it into your body. Chances are that if you can't pronounce the ingredient you might not want it. Seek natural, if not organic nutrition bars, powders, and meal replacement products. Do some research on the active ingredients listed if you're unsure of it's effect. Do you really know what things like Garcinia cambogia and Gymnema sylvestre extracts are, and what they might do to you!?
Second, if you take supplements, use them in moderation. We like to suggest no more than one supplement per day. Supplements are not food.
Drink More Milk! If you've just completed a resistance training workout and are seeking a high quality, low carbohydrate protein food, look no further: a double serving of skim milk fits the bill with about 16 grams of protein.
Or, if you've just finished up on an aerobic workout, and in need of a few more carbohydrates, Chocolate Milk is one of your best options! Low in fat, and with an approximate 4:1 proportion of carbs:protein, chocolate milk has the exact proportions supplied by the most popular post endurance athlete products.