Watch Out! Your Favorite Supplements Packed with Secret and Scary Ingredients

Your Favorite Supplements Packed with Secret and Scary Ingredients: Watch Out!

A lot of people feel that supplements supposedly help us lose weight and build muscle. But a recent study shows that some of these common supplements contain ingredients that you could never think of and surprisingly these are not mentioned on the bottle.

There is a report published in JAMA Network [1] in which researchers studied the undesirable dietary supplements database obtained from FDA’s Drug Evaluation and Research from 2007-2016. It was found that approximately 776 supplements contained ingredients which were unapproved. These dietary supplements were sold OTC or online.

Majority of the supplements claimed benefits like: sexual enhancement /improved libido (46%), weight loss (41%), muscle building (12%). It was found that these supplements contained highly dangerous ingredients.

Dr Arielle, coauthor of “Vitamin Solution,” says that there is no certainty of the fact that what is there written on the bottle is the same as what is there inside the bottle. Manufacturers or producers get hold of the ingredients from any place and it is highly certain that what is not supposed to be there could be added in it.


As an example, a lot of weight loss supplements contain a substance called sibutramine which increases the chances of cardio vascular complications and got banned in the U.S. in 2010. Majority of the supplements of muscle building have anabolic steroids which are not listed or labeled on the bottle. And drugs to improve sexual potency contain sildenafil which is an active ingredient of Viagra.

We cannot say that all the ingredients are dangerous, but they can cause a lot of harm if administered in wrong doses or used coupled with other drugs. Not that all drugs are bad. They do what they are supposed to do but they must be monitored in regulated ways by the doctors. Your Favorite Supplements Packed with Secret and Scary Ingredients: Watch Out!

Are Dietary Supplements Common?

A survey conducted by Council for Responsible Nutrition in 2017 [2] , revealed that 76% of the people in the U.S. take dietary supplements. These numbers are really high. 90% of the respondents said that they believed in the quality, safety and effectiveness of these supplements.

Now the million-dollar question is why supplements cannot live up to the trust of the consumers? Dr. Joseph, assistant professor, Columbia University says that it is all about how these products are regulated.

A lot of people do not know that there is a difference in the regulation of supplements and pharmaceuticals. FDA has classified the supplements same as food. This means as per FDA there is no difference between taking a vitamin D supplement and eating a carrot, despite the fact that you know what is there in the carrot but do not know what is there in the pill.

As per FDA there is no need on the manufacturer’s end to prove the safety of their supplements and the fact that they should live up to the claims before they hit the stores. Agency makes use of customer reviews, complaints and reports of serious mis happenings like hospitalization or death to identify dangerous supplements which are basically unsafe.

Are Dietary Supplements Common

Researchers agree that use of supplements which are deemed safe plays a valuable role in improving the health of the patient despite the adulterated ingredients. The most famous supplements in adults are not ones administered for sexual enhancement, muscle building and weight loss. These are in fact minerals and vitamins. These supplements have less chances of having dangerous hidden ingredients as there is no struggle by the manufacturers to claim that they are effective. You should avoid supplements that make heavy claims like promising that you would lose certain amount of weight in certain amount of time. These are a warning sign. These sound too good to be true.

Picking Safe Supplements

While you walk down the pharmacy aisle, pick the products which are marked with “USP Verified Mark”. This indicates that the product has been evaluated by the U.S. Pharmacopeia which verifies that the product does not contain contaminants and is made out of ingredients that are labeled and are there on the bottle. The USP Verified Mark makes sure that you get the product that you are expecting and not something else.

Picking Safe Supplements 

Moreover, you should consult your doctor to chart out the right quantities and types of the supplements you require. Supplements must be safe and medically appropriate, and this may be different from one person to another. Even when the products are safe you should take care of the quantities and take them in appropriate doses.


Some of the supplements may contain hidden additives specially the ones marketed for weight loss, sexual enhancement and muscle building. There are steps people can take to protect themselves like looking out for the USP Verified Mark and figuring out with the help of a doctor what supplements are required.