Dietary supplements, according to the CDC, do not need to demonstrate benefits before going on the market. On the contrary, pharmaceuticals must prove that they work and that they are safe for consumption. Interestingly enough, between 2004 and 2013, more than 23,000 visits at 63 emergency rooms were a result of adverse reactions (irregular heartbeat, chest pain, etc.) to dietary supplements, which are widely deemed as safe for consumption. In most of the cases, young people were consuming said dietary supplements to lose weight or boost energy levels.
Dr. Andrew Geller of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently led a study on the safety of dietary supplements published in the New England Journal of Medicine. He argues there is not enough evidence to claim dietary supplements are safe. Clinicians, health agencies, and consumers, have trouble identifying which supplements trigger dangerous reactions, as many dietary supplement products have multiple ingredients at various dosages.
Duffy MacKay, a naturopathic doctor and the senior vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (trade group) argues that the study overestimates the dangers of dietary supplements. Furthermore, he says that any problems caused by supplements could be minimized by keeping the products away from children, developing pills that will not choke older people, and educating young people about how to use the products more carefully.