Arguing Cause Autumn Flicek

writer's memo?

Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements are used by people all over the world. Some examples of supplements someone may take would be things such as vitamins, herbs or minerals. These supplements are bringing risks to our society because they’re causing health problems and people actually get sick from them or have health issues when they're supposed to be doing the opposite. As a society we are spending money and endangering our health with these supplements on a daily basis. What’s interesting is these supplements can be sold without research showing how well the supplements actually work, so for all someone may know, the supplement they’re taking may not be doing anything at all for them, it may even be a risk, depending on their situation. Makers of these supplements are not legally allowed to say these supplements treat disease, cure, or prevent different health issues, and there must be a reason for that. According to Madison Park, speaking for CNN, in one year, US citizens spend $1.5 billion on dietary supplements and vitamins. This puts the average person at $5 per year for spending's on supplements. This may not seem like much but because not every person living in the US takes supplements, those that do most likely spend much more than $5. I have a friend who spends a couple hundred a year on these types of things, and that's just one person. Depending on the bottle, if an ingredient is difficult to find or in short supply, it's going to cost more. A single bottle of vitamins can cost over $100 (Park).

According to Elena Stevens, speaking for the LDA Fitness Network, a lot of people usually use dietary supplements for reasons such as overall better health or to help keep a certain part of their body healthy, but in reality it’s possible the supplements may make other health conditions worse. Like most things, there can be side effects or possibly an allergic reaction when using dietary supplements (Stevens). Just because the label says it will do one thing; it may do another depending on the person. According to Jason Gibson, founder of the Gibson Law Firm, people will not only use these supplements to improve health but to increase endurance and enhance their appearance. Many supplements are marketed saying they have almost no side effects, but as soon as you combine them with something else or take them too often, they can become fatal (Gibson). (What?! Fatal?! More on this, please.)

Using dietary supplements can be risky if you combine them with other prescription or nonprescription medications or even other supplements (Stevens). Dietary supplements differ from one brand to the next, so the side affects from supplement to supplement will probably vary as well. Stacking is common among body builders or those really into sports. Stacking is defined as a group of supplements used to enhance performance. Stacking uses products with different intended purposes that work together to enhance energy, endurance and recovery (Willett). In 2008 it was found that the workout supplement flavors tropical orange and peach nectar contained a dangerous level of selenium and chromium, this product had seventeen times the recommended amount (Gibson). Too much chromium can cause side effects from muscle cramps to liver toxicity this is when using any brand of supplement with chromium in them (Gibson).
It’s important to know how much to take of dietary supplements; if too much is taken there are definitely harmful risks with a product, that’s with any supplement one could take. Some vitamins and minerals have toxic effects if too much is consumed (Stevens). For example, if too much vitamin A is taken, it will result in awful side effects from headaches all the way to possible birth defects (Stevens). A major affect with too much consumption of Vitamin A would be liver damage as well; this is a very common side effect. Another example that can lead to side effects is iron in supplements, this can cause vomiting and nausea and may even cause organ damage (Stevens).

Liver damage is one of the main reasons drugs are taken off the market or fail approval, but since dietary supplements do not need to be tested before going on the market, this is an issue to be concerned about (Gibson). A number of dietary supplements go through the liver for processing and can be toxic to the organ (Gibson). There have been liver transplants that have happened because of dietary supplements along with some deaths (Gibson). Having to worry about liver failure or any negative side effects doesn’t seem like a risk worth taking.

We all have genetic weaknesses, such as higher needs with some nutrients or higher rates of depletion with certain nutrients. But just because these things may be present that doesn’t mean the best choice is to take dietary supplements to get the nutrients we need. People use these supplements because they believe it’s an easy, quicker way to get their intake of nutrients.

The problem with this attitude or belief is dietary supplements are not checked out very well before they are put to use. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), supplements are said to be safe until they’re proven hazardous, now that sounds like a risky chance to take, especially for something that’s supposed to be improving our health (Stevens). There is no requirement for supplements to be reviewed before being put on the market, thus putting us at risk. There is a Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act that says if a product is misbranded they’re not allowed to market these products, so this puts the original manufacturer in charge of making sure their own product is safe (FDA). Not only until after the product has been put on the market is the FDA responsible or even able to do anything about a product (FDA). The only time these risky supplements are reviewed or even just looked at is if a consumer reports or has a complaint about a supplement, only then will it be looked at to see whether or not it’s a possible risk for human consumption (Stevens). Because these supplements aren’t looked at too carefully before being put on the shelf that gives the manufacturers an easier pass to put false advertisements on the bottles like things such as the strength of the product or health benefits that might not even be true to the product.

There was an issue brought up a few weeks ago with a sports supplement called “Frenzy” reported by Alison Young from USA Today. Their company previously had a sports supplement called “Craze” that was secretly spiked with a methamphetamine like compound. The same company has now come out with this new sports supplement called “Frenzy” which is said to be even more powerful than Craze (Young). Driven Sports, the company producing it, won’t give any secrets away as to what ingredients are in their new product. One of the men who is head of the company would not respond to any interview questions and he has been a convicted felon in recent years for putting risky products on the market (Young). We never know what’s in these supplements, so it seems, and there’s no way to find out until something bad happens. So my question, is it really worth the risk?

It is true that food processing, preserving, and cooking leads to nutrient depletion in our food supply that makes it difficult to obtain adequate nutrition from foods alone, according to Michelle Cook, who is a doctor of traditional natural medicine. However, just because there may be depletion in our food doesn’t mean it happens to all food and it doesn’t mean we can’t find foods with plenty of nutrients available in them. “Nutrients from your plate typically trump the stuff in a pill,” according to Emily Haak.

Whole foods, opposed to supplements, are much more complex because they provide micronutrients which your body also needs to function well along with the nutrients, according to dietitian Maria Bella. For example, there are many compounds that make up a single piece of fruit, and together these compounds will be a lot more beneficial together than getting a single nutrient from each separate supplement taken (Haak).

There are many options on how to get these different nutrients with multiple different foods. Dairy, of course has the highest amount of calcium per serving, so this would be the easiest way to get calcium, though it is not the only way (Haak). The following things are examples of things that would just as easily be able to give someone the calcium they need in their diet; turnip greens or cooked kale, tofu, non-fat yogurt, canned pink salmon, or even roasted sesame seeds (Haak). Another nutrient example would be Vitamin C, one could eat grapefruit, cooked broccoli, peach, pear, or blueberries to cover this, and those are just a few (Haak). So the issue of possible depletion in our food isn’t really an issue, because for each and every nutrient we must consume there are multiple produce that can substitute for the other and eating enough of these is all one would have to be concerned about.

A downfall to dietary supplements is they might not even be worth the time or money. Turns out, the more minerals and vitamins per supplement the less likely it is for that supplement to really break down and have the body take in those nutrients (WebMD). It’s a lot easier to just eat physical foods with those vitamins and minerals in them, also foods have substances that dietary supplements don’t. We, as a society, are spending too much money on these supplements that are endangering our health. It’s time to take a look at what’s really entering one’s system when they consume these expensive and risky supplements.

Works Cited

Gibson, Jason A. "Dietary Supplement Side Effects: What You Should Know about the Side Effects of Supplements." Dietary Supplement Side Effects. The Gibson Law Firm, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

Haak, Emma. "4 Ways to Get Nutrients from Your Food (Instead of a Pill)." The Oprah Magazine, Apr. 2012. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.

Stevens, Elena. "The Good and Bad about Dietary Supplements." LDS Fitness Network. N.p., 1 June 2011. Web. 01 Mar. 2014.

"U.S. Food and Drug Administration." Dietary Supplements. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 26 Feb. 2014. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.

Young, Alison. "New Sports Supplement 'Frenzy' Draws Concern, Questions." USA Today. Gannett, 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.

"Dietary Supplements Topic Overview." WebMD. WebMD, 29 June 2011. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.

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