Vitamins and Nutrition Supplements can be unsafe.

Recent news has shown that nutrition supplements are not very safe to consume if you get cheap and not very well known brands.

Decisions regarding vitamins and supplements cannot be left to us alone. Therefore, I feel it is important that everyone should know the results of the experiment carried out by Katinka van de Ven and Kyle J.D. Mulrooney of University of Kent.

They stated that reading the label might not help with informing about content of supplements. Nutrition Supplements are part of a huge industry which is highly unregulated. As supplements are considered to be foods therefore they are regulated under food laws by the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health (FSADH). Unless a medical claim is made by the manufacturer, supplements are not regulated as a medicine by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

This means that supplement manufacturers do not need prior approval from the MHRA before producing or selling their product and there is no requirement for supplements to be licensed. Furthermore, supplements sold in the UK have not been subjected to the same scientific scrutiny as medicines and are not as strictly regulated. They are also not tested on product safety, quality and efficacy before they hit the shelves because there is no legal obligation for supplement manufacturers to take part in testing products.


There is a growing body of research which indicates that many supplements sold in the UK may be contaminated with “banned” and often dangerous substances. A 2004 study, for instance, tested 634 supplements purchased in 13 countries from 215 different suppliers. Of the 634 samples analysed, 94 (14.8%) contained anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), 18.8% of which were purchased in the UK. Further, a study in 2008 found that 10% of supplements and weight loss products purchased and tested in the UK were contaminated with steroids and/or stimulants. A more recent study tested 24 products sold in fitness shops in the UK that were suspected of containing AAS. Of the 24 products tested, 23 contained steroids including known anabolic agents.

There is mounting evidence that in addition to being contaminated with illegal substances, several supplements have also been found to contain ingredients not listed on the label, or cheaper alternatives and fillers – such as grass, wheat or rice – substituted for ingredients that are often used to bulk up herbal supplements and may cause allergies.

Some have false and misleading claims surrounding the health benefits of the product. Care should be taken when choosing a brand. Choose one which is well-known and has been tested.

Chronic use

The contamination of nutritional supplements is a risk. The chronic consumption of such products could unwittingly expose users to significant health risks. Where supplements are mislabelled or contain fillers, users may be subject to mild to severe reactions as a result of unlisted ingredients. In the case of athletes, using contaminated supplements may result in a positive doping tests, having detrimental effects on their athletic career. Consequently, there is considerable risk of accidental or inadvertent doping through the consumption of supplements. In fact in 2012, the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) reported that approximately 44% of positive dope tests in the UK were thought to have been the consequence of prohibited substances in supplements.

Minimising risk

Regulation is clearly necessary to ensure the safety and quality of supplements for everyday consumers and athletes alike. But supplement users can employ strategies to minimise their risk.

The first is abstinence – is supplementation necessary, or is it beneficial?

You may be better off considering what they eat and whether they can get the same benefits from eating a proper diet. In addition to this, the perceived benefits of certain supplements have been called into question by many in the medical community and that the excessive use of supplements may be linked to certain health risks.

If individuals decide to use legal supplements, they should ensure they choose products that contain only the substance they require – and purchase supplements from a reputable manufacturer.

Take extra care when choosing supplements and be safe!

Till then take care and I’ll be back with more information…


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