Solution Proposal Autumn Flicek

•I found this part of my paper to be particularly interesting:

I thought it was interesting the amount of poison control phone calls there has been related to dietary supplements. It was really interesting to learn more facts on this topic and I enjoyed reading more on it.

•This part was surprisingly difficult:

Coming up with the format of the paper was difficult, it took me awhile but I think I got it.

•Next time I would do this differently:

I would format out the paper on a separate sheet before I started writing, plan better is what I would do. It would have been more helpful to do that and I did end up doing that after I wrote my paper but it took more work because I had to go back and rearrange all the paragraphs and then change parts of them to make the paper flow better.

Dietary Supplements

In today’s society, citizens are using all kinds of enhancers to boost their health and physical attributes. Dietary supplements being one of these things are used all over the world by people who don’t know the potential risks that come along with them. These vitamins, herbs and minerals that people are taking to enhance their health aren’t necessarily doing what they say they are supposed to do. They are bringing risks to our society causing health issues when they’re supposed to be doing the opposite. As a society, we are spending money on product that is endangering our health on a daily basis. There is a lack of regulation and awareness with these supplements and that needs to be fixed.

Along with being a health risk, they’re quite expensive. According to Madison Park, speaking for CNN, in one year, US citizens spend $1.5 billion on dietary supplements and vitamins. This equals to the average person spending about $5 per year 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). This is a waste of money that’s just bringing harm to the consumers of these products. We as a society should care because this is a lot of money to be wasting on something that is going to have a major effect on a person’s body and heath. Consumers of these products deserve the right to know the effect it is having on them.

The friend I mentioned who spends a couple hundred a year on supplements does it for workout purposes. I’m not quite sure the exact name of what he takes but they’re all things to help enhance his energy before his workout, or release his body from becoming sore after a workout. So the supplements he uses are more for reasons such as making sure he doesn’t develop sore muscles and giving him energy to workout longer. However, there are many different ways to obtain energy without taking supplements.

One way would be to increase magnesium intake. To do this, one only has to make sure to eat a balanced diet. In a study done at the Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, women with less magnesium had higher heart rates and needed more oxygen to do physical tasks as opposed to after their magnesium levels were restored (WebMD). Without the magnesium, their body’s had to work harder, which over time leaves one feeling more drained and depleted than normal. It’s worth it to do the extra things to help you out. One can also do something as simple as walk around the block to increase their energy level. In experiments conducted at California State University, a ten minute walk didn’t only increase the energy of students, but the effects lasted up to two hours after the walk (WebMD). When these walks continued consistently for three weeks, the overall moods and energy levels of the students were lifted. These examples prove that using supplement’s is not the only way to go.

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 for a specific part of their body. 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.

There was a trend going on in the 1990’s called “megadosing.” This is where one would take a quite large dose of a specific vitamin with the idea that it would prevent them from receiving some sort of sickness, whatever it may be. Like Vitamin C for example, this is known to help cure colds so people would take large doses of it thinking it would prevent them from getting a cold (WebMD). Even though there has been no scientific evidence that this is true, some people still believe it and continue to take large doses of Vitamin C through supplements. Too much Vitamin C can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb copper which is actually needed for the body (WebMD). This shows that too much of a Vitamin can be more harmful than not taking one at all.

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. It’s expensive to care for health issues and it’s expensive to buy supplements which are causing them.

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).
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.

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.

Dietary supplements don’t seem to 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 and do something about it.

Dietary supplements are dangerous and unnecessary. People take them because they think they’re improving their health when really, a majority of the time, they’re just harming their health. It’s a surprise that people keep taking these supplements when there are so many risks with these products. We wonder why those who use them so often continue to take them even with the risks at stake, it’s because they don’t know the effects they can have or how harmful they may be. Now that we’ve established the harmful effects dietary supplements can have on our body, what we need to do is make consumers of these products more aware.

Putting warning labels on all supplements would be one way to go. The problem with this is that 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. So even if we wanted to put warning labels on the supplement containers it wouldn’t matter because the true facts wouldn’t be presented through the labels, especially since we don’t even know the risks until after something has gone wrong with the product.

Another option would be for our society to just stop using supplements all together. That’s not even an option though, considering forty percent of the American population used supplements from 1988-1994 and continuing to climb with over half the population using dietary supplements from 2003-2006 (Gahche). This option is unrealistic because so many people use dietary supplements and the only way to drop those numbers is to inform consumers on what they are taking. Another option would be to just ban them completely and not even give an option of being able to buy the supplements. This would be the most tough option and even more unrealistic because of the high numbers on people using dietary supplements. Starting a petition would be one way to go but in our society and the reliance some people have on dietary supplements, banning supplements completely isn’t realistic at all.

Dietary supplements are mostly self-prescribed with no input from medical assistance. One thing we could do to ensure we are taking non harmful supplements is make it so supplements have the same requirements as prescribed drugs and you have to go through a doctors consent to get them. That way, the doctor should know what is and isn’t safe and will make sure the consumer isn’t taking something at risk for their health. Also, with doing this, the doctor can be sure if the patient is taking other medications that the supplements are okay to take with those and won’t do any harm to them. Right now, some people ask their doctors before using dietary supplements, the majority of people who take dietary supplements just trust what’s on the bottle.

As a society we could take some time in health classes to teach students about the potential risks with some of these supplements. Incorporating a section into the lesson plan would be beneficiary and helpful for students. Teaching kids at a young age before they get to the point of taking supplements is important to show them the potential risks with some supplements. Just to get them aware that not all supplements are safe and that they aren’t regulated very well so there is potential risk with them until proven otherwise. But really, there is no way to tell until something happens to someone. It’s important to educate people and show them how these products are regulated before they go on the market.
Going off of that, we need more regulation with dietary supplements. Just like prescribed drugs, they should need to go through the FDA before being put on the market. They shouldn’t just rely on the manufacturers and trust that they are putting safe supplements out on the market. Recent FDA information shows that the number of reports on harmful supplements has continued to climb each year. In 2010, there were 1,009 reports of dietary supplement adverse events, in 2011, there were 2,047 events reported, and in 2012, 2,884 dietary supplement adverse events (FDA).

Exposure to supplements, such as vitamins, herbs, protein powders, and botanicals accounted for more than 35,000 calls to US poison control centers in 2011 (FDA). Of these calls, more than 4,000 people were reportedly treated in health care facilities. More than 800 cases were described as having moderate to severe outcomes, with 4 deaths reported to poison control centers (FDA). Most people don’t call in to the manufacturer if they experience a side effect from a supplement, so this means these numbers are lower than the actual data. Either way, 35,000 calls in one year related to side effects from dietary supplements is a very large number. Most of what is heard or read about supplements is based on evidence from people’s personal experiences; it’s not results of controlled research studies. With this, we can’t trust that these facts are true.

Our society is overwhelming themselves by taking these supplements when they don’t even know what they contain. They believe them to be beneficial but in reality they are bringing harmful risks to society. Consumers continue to take these supplements because they are unaware of the risks they are putting themselves at. To make our society aware it’s going to take everyone to help out, including schools, especially schools. This is the first step, education. We also need better regulation. If we want to continue using dietary supplements then it’s necessary to get the FDA more involved before the products are put on the shelf, not after they’ve caused harm to someone. And last of all, giving some hope of safety when using these supplements is to take them through the same process of prescribed medication by having them go through a doctor to get the supplement they choose. It will take work and education to limit the use of dietary supplements but these are realistic solutions and they can be done. Changing regulation and education will make consumers aware of the harm they are putting themselves at and it’s the first step in building a stronger, healthier society.

Works Cited

Clinic-Feature, Colette BouchezWebMD Weight Loss. "Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Energy." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.

"Dietary Supplements: What Is Safe?" American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, 22 Nov. 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

Gahche, Jaime. "NCHS Date Brief." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Apr. 2011. Web. 8 Apr. 2014.

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.

Park, Madison. "Half of Americans Use Supplements." CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Apr. 2011. Web. 7 Apr. 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.

Willett, Brian. "What Does Stack Mean in Bodybuilding?" LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 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.

Solution Proposal Peer Review Autum Flicek

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