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Are Dietary Supplements Safe for You?

Are Dietary Supplements Safe for You?

For all the talk lately about the lack of trust in government, people take it for granted that any product for sale in the U.S. is automatically safe to use – including supplements found in health stores, drug stores, and grocery stores.  After all, if they weren’t safe you’d either need a prescription or you couldn’t find them.  Right?

FDA’s Supplement Oversight Power

Believe it or not, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 states that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no power to “pre-approve” dietary supplements. They law does give them the power to remove or ban the sale of any product that is suspected of containing illegal ingredients, such as animal parts. The problem is that  this aftermarket action is very complicated to enforce.

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  1. It is up to consumers and health care providers to notify the FDA that there is a potential problem with a given product.
  2. Manufacturers are required to submit a notice of new ingredients to the FDA but the definition of what constitutes “new” is vague and there is no way to ensure that a manufacturer is compliant with the law.
  3. Dietary supplement firms are known to change the name of the product without the knowledge of the FDA after the supplement is banned by name.
  4. There are too few agents to follow up on the more than 55,000 dietary supplements sold in stores across the U.S. and fewer still to monitor imported products sold online.

The FDA’s Office of Dietary Supplement Programs has recently put forth a revised guidance for the Notification of New Ingredients” that would empower the government to have the ability for the first time to identify unsafe ingredients before they hit the open market.  While this still wouldn’t prevent fraudulent supplements to be sold on the Internet, it would be a step forward in the protection of U.S. consumers.

The Importance of Supplement Safety

One of the most dangerous health issues related to dietary supplements is that ingredients are sometimes absent from the labeling, sometimes illegal in the U.S., and other times the name of an ingredient is changed when it has been outlawed.

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Ingredients that are hidden or not reported on the labels include items that are laced with molds and known poisons. Illegal ingredients are often not listed. For instance, one product known as Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen has been flagged as it contains undeclared sibutramine and/or phenolphthalein. Other illegal ingredients include animal parts such as oxen and bull penis, and bovine eyes since these typically are contaminated with molds, mildews, and/or fecal matter.

An example of the latter is the ingredient called Oxilofrine. In 2004, this ingredient was outlawed as extremely dangerous and having caused thousands of deaths in the U.S. At that time, it was called ephedra. Manufacturers gave it a change in name and a subtle tweaking of the chemical composition. If Oxilofrine had been reported under the “new ingredient” regulation, it would have been caught before more people suffered death and permanent injury.

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Oxilofrine is also marketed under the name Methylsynephrine, which many consumers believe is the same as Synephrine, which is a natural component of bitter oranges.  Unfortunately, there are many names on labels that are designed to deliberately mislead buyers.

Consumer Reports lists Lobelia and Green Tea Extract Powder among the top 15 ingredients to always avoid.  Both are known to potentially cause death while the other side effects are equally undesirable – some causing permanent health issues.

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The FDA and Consumer Reports as well as multiple medical research and health organizations are sending out alarms about supplements sold for the purpose of increasing energy, assisting in weight loss, increasing muscle mass, and normalizing erectile function.  Additionally, they warn against taking anything marked or marketed as “100% Natural” as if an ingredient that is natural, such as Lobelia, is not deadly. The best protection available at this time is “Buyer Beware”.

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Tanvir Zafar

The founder of ISU Technologies, passionate in writing about entrepreneurship, work and technology.

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Last Updated on May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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