Is your dietary supplement safe? From weight loss pills to protein powder, dietary supplement consumption is on the rise. But some dietary supplements boast unsubstantiated claims and may be contaminated with pesticides or toxic heavy metals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes dietary supplements as products with ingredients such as herbs, vitamins, and minerals. Dietary supplement companies can market these products as powders, tablets, or liquids.

Dietary supplements have less stringent safety requirements than prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Companies can send their products to market without conducting any safety or quality testing—such as clinical trials to prove their products’ alleged health benefits. Current FDA regulations only require “reasonable assurance” that dietary supplements do not pose “a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury” when the product is used as directed, or with regular use if the label does not include directions.

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) allows FDA to regulate dietary supplements as a special category distinct from conventional food and drug products. The statute also authorizes the agency to remove products it deems unsafe from the market. Having products stay within FDA guidelines is crucial.

Dietary SupplementsFDA, however, lacks the ability to review the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before consumers can buy these products. Although the DSHEA allows FDA to remove a dietary supplement from the market, the agency can only do so after it demonstrates that the product in question presents a significant risk to consumers. Leaving many wondering if their dietary supplements are safe.

But this standard can be difficult to meet for two reasons. First, because dietary supplements are usually self-prescribed or available over-the-counter, medical professionals do not consistently monitor them for negative side effects. Second, because reporting adverse reactions to dietary supplements is voluntary for consumers and health professionals, toxic products can circulate in the market before FDA proves injury to consumers and pursues manufacturers.

Many dietary supplements, however, are safe. For example, millions of consumers take multivitamins regularly without harmful side effects, and many manufacturers provide detailed ingredient disclosures and claims on their products. Which brings us to the importance of providing the tools to keep drug manufacturers and companies to stay within guidelines. HawkScanner sends you automatic notifications when products and ingredients are flagged in the official FDA compliance database, and monthly compliance reports. Start searching for free today here.