Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
The supplements we often turn to as beauty or dietary aids may be doing more harm than good, according to new findings from Consumer Reports. Despite populating the shelves at pharmacies and health-food stores across the country, these over-the-counter aids can be contaminated with "dangerous bacteria" and often falsely advertise in terms of their benefits. All signs point to a lack of formalized government regulation surrounding these supplements, which can inadvertently lead to organ damage, cardiac arrest, or even cancer. These are the top five supplement ingredients to stay away from, as reported by Health:
- Caffeine powder: Used for weight loss, increased energy, and athletic performance.
- Green tea extract powder: Used for weight loss.
- Kava: Used for anxiety and insomnia.
- Aconite: Used for inflammation, joint pain, and gout.
- Chaparral: Used for weight loss, inflammation, colds, rashes, and infections.
"These products don't always contain what they claim to," explains Ellen Kunes, the health content team leader at Consumer Reports. "That could mean you're just wasting your money on something harmless—but the reality is, a lot of it is not harmless. … Many times, the FDA only gets involved after they get a report that there's a problem."
Kunes contends that eating a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, exercising on a regular basis, getting the recommended six to eight hours of sleep every night, and monitoring your stress levels are more than enough to make you feel happy and healthy. "We recommend getting your health from food and healthy habits, rather than popping a pill."
This post was originally published on September 12, 2016, and has since been updated.