An Open Letter to Vitamin and Supplement Users

Subject: An Open Letter to Vitamin and Supplement Users
From: Camryn More
Date: 13 Mar 2020

To vitamin and dietary supplement users alike, I, too, have believed that many vitamins and dietary supplements on the market will work to and significantly improve my physical appearance and health. After all, supplements are designed to support good health and healthy living. However, after completing much research for an English project that required us to find the answer to a difficult or compelling question, I found that these vitamin and supplement claims do not all necessarily hold true to this fact. Many vitamins and dietary supplements could potentially place users in great danger.

In one specific case, a woman who had been consuming an herbal weight loss supplement called Garcinia Cambogia arrived at the emergency room for nausea, vomiting, stomach pain. This case of hepatotoxicity, damage to the liver caused by a medicine, herbal, or dietary supplement, has been associated with the consumption of certain herbal supplements. What had started as a woman simply trying to lose weight, lower blood sugar, and cholesterol has led to drug-induced hepatotoxicity, causing painful life-threatening symptoms and hospitalization.

I’ll admit, I definitely have consumed my fair share of protein powders and supplements in shakes and other products in the past. In fact, quite recently. After all, I’ve wanted to improve my own physique after exercising. These sports nutrition products are developed and targeted for athletes to enhance muscle growth and performance. However, the biggest and most frequent users of these products are us, the “recreational sports people and lifestyle users.” For those of us whose bodies are not designed to consume such large quantities of protein supplements, more bacterial amino acid metabolism takes place in the colon. This may lead to adverse metabolic effects. Essentially, if our bodies are not prepared or designed to consume such large quantities of a product, some supplements may actually harm, and not benefit us as the consumer.

As the vitamin and supplement industry is growing at a rapid rate, new products are being introduced to the market daily. With all of these new products entering the market, there is little to no regulation on what is actually sold to consumers. According to experts, the only way any item can be removed from the consumer market is for the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to disprove its health claims by running tests on it. This is quite the polar opposite of the pharmaceutical industry. The FDA so highly regulates essential pharmaceutical items such as prescription drugs and medications that they require drug registration, listing, field examinations, sample analysis, and new drug applications and approval before they are placed on the market. As for vitamins and supplements, virtually anyone can create and produce these items with little or no standards, rules, or regulations. This is quite concerning for all of us vitamin and supplement consumers because we do not necessarily know how clean, safe, and protected the supplements we consume are. We should have the right to know what exactly is and isn’t in the vitamins and supplements we consume daily. We need to bring light and start the conversation about the potential dangers and harm that vitamins and supplements may cause.

I would like to advise the vitamin and dietary supplement users out there about the potential dangers when consuming these products that are designed to support healthy-living lifestyles. This piece was designed to inform current users and non-users about the potential dangers of unregulated vitamins and supplements, as well as the effects of the overconsumption of vitamins and supplements. We need to be cautious before placing any product into our bodies.
Thank you for reading.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo