A healthy diet doesn’t need any additional herbal products or over the counter supplements. My clients often ask me what supplements they need to add to their diets. I tell them food is medicine and that they don’t need to waste money on a handful of pills.

Why a Healthy Diet Does Not Need Supplements

As a Certified Nutritionist, my opinion is that you can get all the nutrients your body requires from a healthy diet. In the absence of a doctor’s order, I strongly recommend against taking supplements. There are several reasons to shun supplements. Most people don’t realize that the FDA does not regulate herbal products or supplements as it does prescription medications. That means that there is no safety check. They may seem innocent because they are labeled “natural” and available over the counter, but that’s not the case. Very few supplements have been rigorously tested for effectiveness. Nor have safe dosage amounts been determined. There is also the potential for dangerous interactions with other medications and supplements that you may be taking. Even worse, every study I’ve seen shows that a high percentage of supplements and herbal products don’t actually contain the ingredients listed on the label. Some are even contaminated with highly toxic chemicals.

Latest Study Demonstrates the Dangers of Supplements  

Not only are supplements unnecessary for a healthy diet, this study shows that they are often mislabeled and can cause liver damage.

In the U.S., the herbal and dietary supplements industry is a multi‐billion‐dollar‐per‐year enterprise.  However, there’s a growing concern that potentially mislabeled products may contain ingredients that can be highly toxic and damaging to the liver.

In order to evaluate this claim, a team of researchers used samples of herbal and dietary supplements collected by DILIN to analyze the contents of these products and check for mislabeling.

Victor Navarro, MD, chair of Hepatology for Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, led the team of researchers in comparing herbal and dietary supplements’ ingredients to the products labeling.

Dr. Navarro points out the potential harm of herbal and dietary supplements.

“Since herbal and dietary supplements are not required by the FDA to be tested for safety or effectiveness, the DILIN has focused on various factors that could explain their potential for harm.”

Herbal and Dietary Supplements Are Frequently Mislabeled

Here are the details of the study:

  • To analyze the contents of herbal and dietary supplements and the frequency of mislabeling, the researchers collected data from 2,268 patients enrolled in the Drug Induced Liver Injury Network between 2003 and March 2016.
  • Of the 341 supplements collected, the researchers have performed chemical analysis of 229 and found that 26 did not have any ingredients labelled.
  • Analysis showed that only 44% of supplements showed accurately labeled contents.
  • The amount of mislabeling is cause for concern.
    • 80% of steroidal ingredients
    • 54% of vitamin ingredients  
    • 48% of botanical ingredients.
  • 79% of bodybuilding products
  • 72% of weight loss products
  • 60% of five energy boosters
  • 51% of general health and well-being supplements.

Victor J. Navarro, MD, from the department of transplantation at the Einstein Healthcare Network, Philadelphia summed up the findings as follows:

  • “We have found that the dietary supplements are a common cause of liver injury.
  • In looking at those cases, we find that there are a lot of products that are difficult to identify exactly what they are and what they’re used for.
  • There has been a lot of literature that tells us that dietary supplements in the market can be mislabeled and can be adulterated.
  • We found that really the majority overall of products that patients give us are mislabeled. That is, what’s in the product, once analyzed chemically, does not match what’s on the label.
  • As we looked carefully at these cases. We could look at the case and say, with some degree of confidence, that the unlabeled hepatotoxic ingredient was the cause of injury.
  • What this tells us is that not only is mislabeling common, but those mislabeled ingredients may very well be the cause of injury.”

Herbal and dietary supplements are frequently mislabeled.  According to The Liver Meeting, held by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, herbal and dietary supplements should be evaluated as a potential cause for liver damage.

More than 20 percent of liver injury cases reported to the United States Drug Induced Liver Injury Network (DILIN) are attributed to herbal and dietary supplements.

Click here to read full article explaining why a healthy diet doesn’t need supplements.