More people overdosing on dietary supplements, research shows

Kara Marxer
July 26, 2017 - 6:17 am

A new study shows on average, U.S. poison control centers take a call about dietary supplements every 24 minutes.

The products include vitamins, weight loss supplements, herbal remedies and libido enhancers. 

Experts say a lot of people have no idea what they're putting into their bodies when they reach for a bottle of supplements. 

"So it's buyer beware and whatever you get, it's what you get," said Dr. Steven Thornton, who runs the Poison Control Center at the University of Kansas Hospital.

Supplements are not regulated the way prescription drugs are, which means they may not be entirely safe, Thornton said. It can be impossible to prove what is one a given supplement because many products are not analyzed for chemical content. 

"Some of these products have just plain old amphetamines in them, like methamphetamines, because they're just not tested, and people can put pretty much whatever they want into them," Thornton said.

The study, published last week in the Journal of Medical Toxicology, shows that between 2005 and 2012, there were more than 12,000 cases of supplements causing severe medical problems, including dozens of deaths.

About 70 percent of calls involving supplement exposure involved children aged six and under.

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