It’s easy to get sucked in by the extensive promises made by supplement companies. Whether they claim to help you lose weight, promote glowing skin or increase hair growth, supplement companies certainly offer users a lot. However, not everyone is sold on them—most notably, a Harvard doctor.
According to Business Insider, Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, says that certain supplements can be seriously dangerous, and you can tell if yours are risky if you see these two words printed on the back of your bottle: “proprietary blend.”
“[This] allows companies to put in ingredients without telling us the amounts,” says Cohen. “And those tend to be the higher-risk product.” By including these two words, a supplement company doesn’t have to list every detail about each ingredient that’s been blended into their product, which can be dangerous for some.
As Business Insider points out, several supplements have been connected to the development of certain cancers and kidney stones, and a recent study found that approximately 20,000 people are sent to the emergency room each year due to supplements.
Unfortunately, it’s the lack of regulation that makes these supplements so dangerous. When it comes to regulating food, Cohen says, “They have to meet what’s known as the ‘generally recognized as safe,’ or GRAS, standard. That’s not the standard for ingredients introduced to supplements. The standard is not anywhere near that level of scrutiny.” In terms of regulating supplements, ingredients under the “proprietary blend” category aren’t necessitated to reveal their exact amounts, which can be a problem with it comes to mixing supplements with prescription drugs.
“From a regulatory perspective, they’re all presumed to be safe, but the reality is many people….are harmed by supplements,” finishes Cohen in the interview. However, this new knowledge shouldn’t make you cut out all supplements just yet. Simply consult your doctor before adding a new supplement into your routine—it’s more important to do so than you think.