November 30, 2016
Shannon Mulvihill, FORMER Executive Director of Focus for Health
We all want our supplements to be safe. No one wants to spend money on a pill or use a cream that won’t work, or worse, could make you sick. The FDA is proposing new guidelines that some say is a massive attack on the supplement industry. But is tighter control by the FDA really the answer? And is their motivation to get involved really about keeping us safe?
A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon a scientific study on the dangers of calcium supplements. “Calcium supplements increase dementia risk in women” was the headline. I was a little freaked out. I’d worked at a nursing home for 15 years, and handed out more calcium supplements than I could count to nearly all of my patients. This was one of the more benign pills that I didn’t feel bad about administering to the elderly. After a closer look, I realized that the headline didn’t really match the study results. It was a small study that showed an increased risk for only a small subset of women, and the study had multiple limitations.
Then a couple of weeks later, another headline: “Supplements increase heart disease risk.” Again, the headline served more to scare the public away from taking vitamins than to educate on what’s really causing heart disease in Americans. (If you really want to know, check out this article.)
The anti-supplement sentiment continued with a scattering of well-placed articles about the possible harmful effects of ‘unregulated’ and ‘potentially dangerous’ products that ‘greedy snake oil pushers’ pass off as healthy supplements. When you take a closer look, it’s not that difficult to see that these articles may have a purpose – to foster fear and doubt, and to prime the consumer for their predetermined agenda. For a better look at, check out this article from Alliance for Natural Health.
The bottom line is this: If the FDA cracks down on the freedom to buy or sell supplements that many believe are essential to remaining healthy, we the consumer will lose. Prices will certainly go up. Many of the holistic or homeopathic treatments that alternative health consumers rely on will disappear from the market. Even your simple probiotic could be pulled, or end up in the hands of a billion dollar pharmaceutical company that will charge you five times what you pay today.
If you’d like to take action, here’s a link where you can voice your desire to keep control over supplements out of the hands of the FDA and Big Pharma: