Many ads use video testimonials or the word of “health professionals” to persuade people to buy certain weight loss dietary supplements.
It’s important to remember that many dietary supplements have serious side effects. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate these products because they are not considered medicine.
Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, creatine and weight-loss pills. FDA officials say they’ve found hidden drug ingredients in more than 100. Some of the medications are used to treat blood pressure or seizures. One hidden drug, sibutramine, had been pulled from the prescription drug market because it increased the risk for heart attack and stroke.
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.
Some 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 have found any 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 have shown 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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