Written by Paxton Roth, edited for online by Brent Gray.
A new report by the New York Times and US-TV’s Frontline program is raising questions about the quality and safety of vitamins and dietary supplements.
The report from the US has found the multi-billion-dollar industry could actually be hurting our health rather than improving it.
Paul Offit, a paediatrician from the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia told the US current affairs program vitamins and supplements contain much greater amounts than the daily recommended dose and we could be putting ourselves in harms’ way.
“There are studies done showing if you take a mega vitamin you actually could hurt yourself, increase your risk of cancer, increase your risk of heart disease, I think few people know the risks they’re taking,” Offit said.
Chair of the Integrative Medicine Specific Interest group at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Doctor Carolyn Ee said we have more stringent regulations in Australia but there are concerns about people shopping for supplements online.
“About a third of people are buying supplements from overseas so we’re urging those people to be especially cautious and to think carefully about the risk they might be putting themselves into.”
Dr Ee said people should consult a GP if they think they should be taking vitamins or dietary supplements and avoid self prescribing.
“GPs are in a really good position to advise their patients on the potential risks and the likely benefits,” she said.
Queensland branch president for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Tim Logan’s advice for anyone thinking of utilising supplements for their health and performance, is to make sure you know where the product is coming from.
“There are markets on this planet that are unregulated and we have seen instances where people put things in that aren’t labelled in their products or don’t put in the active ingredient at all or might substitute certain so called ‘natural ingredients’,” said Logan.
Logan said if you’re dealing with a brand that’s accountable to the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia there are minimal risks and talking with a GP or a pharmacist could be helpful.
“The thing to do is to ask them is there any evidence to support these claims, in many cases there may not be – in other cases there is some evidence in the literature to support their use and they can be used quit safely.”
Paxton Roth, QUT News