Supplements Tied to 23,000 ER Visits
Dietary supplements, often described as “all natural,” are responsible for sending 23,000 people (many of them children) to the emergency room in the U.S. each year, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Many “all natural” supplements tout weight loss and extra energy as benefits and contain amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrition products, but they have little-to-no testing to support such claims.
For their study, researchers looked at a federal database of adverse events reported at 63 hospitals over a span of 10-years.
At these hospitals, researchers identified 3,667 emergency room visits linked to supplements. In the rest of the U.S., that translates to 23,005 adverse events nationwide each year, including an estimated 2,154 hospitalizations.
About 21.6 percent of the patients were unsupervised children under the age of five–a finding that highlights the importance of keeping supplements out of sight and stored safely.
Women taking weight-loss products accounted for an estimated 3,339 emergency room visits – nearly three times the number of men.
Males, however, had an estimated 567 visits attributed to sexual enhancement supplements and 368 visits for bodybuilding products.
Perhaps most concerning, heart symptoms were the primary complaint in 43 percent of people taking weight-loss products, 46 percent of patients taking energy products, 50 percent taking body-building products, and 37 percent taking sexual-enhancement products.
Supplements are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA can only ban supplements found to be unsafe.
The research team said that the number of emergency room visits attributed to supplement-related events is probably an underestimation, since patients underreport supplement use and physicians may not properly identify these events.