Do you like to hear that those little, cute gummies you take as dietary supplements may harm you?

Your answer may be a ‘No,’ but it’s good to know about some dietary supplements that can harm your health.

In a very recent lawsuit, eight women claimed the top brand F-Factor diet had made them ill. This news drives our blog on dietary supplements and dietary supplement lawsuits taking off in the United States.

In the United States, many adults and kids use one or more vitamins or other nutritional supplements. Food and dietary supplement class actions are triggered when a dietary supplement harms consumers. The majority of them point out that they made the purchase decision due to the deceptive or misleading claims made by the manufacturer.

What are dietary supplements? 

The dietary supplement covers a broad range of products, including vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, enzymes, and other substances. Nutritional supplements come in various shapes and sizes, including pills, gummies, powders, liquids, teas, and bars.

For instance, Calcium and vitamin D supplements keep your bones strong and reduce bone loss.

Who regulates dietary supplements in the United States?

FDA regulations apply to dietary supplement products and dietary product constituents. The FDA has different regulations for dietary supplements compared to “regular” food and drug products.

Dietary supplement-producing companies and their distributors are prohibited from advertising contaminated or misbranded products.

The FDA views supplements as food, not medication. That implies that although the FDA is in charge of taking back any products that are proven harmful after they are placed up for sale, they are not examined by the organization before they are put on the market.

The DSHEA prohibits the FDA from approving dietary supplements for efficacy and safety before their marketing. In many instances, businesses can legally launch dietary supplements on the market without informing the FDA.

The immense growth and expansion of the dietary supplement sector had exceeded the agency’s capacity to monitor it. As of 2019, the dietary industry market value was $4 billion, with over 80,000 different products.

The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 mandates that facilities that produce, process, pack, or retain dietary supplements or dietary ingredients for consumption in the United States register with the FDA.

The FDA advises people to do their research and consult their doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional before deciding whether to buy or use a supplement. This is due to the potential health risks associated with supplement consumption.

The dietary supplement manufacturers must submit information for the FDA’s assessment of the substance’s safety before marketing a dietary supplement containing that ingredient (but not its efficacy).

How are dietary supplements regulated?

The FDA has the authority legally move against any adulterated or mislabeled dietary supplement after it hits the market. In order to detect discrepancies, the agency conducts inspections, monitors the market, examines dietary supplements and dietary ingredients that are offered for import, and researches NDI notifications and other regulatory submissions for dietary supplements.

Answering Top Five FAQs on Dietary Supplements 

1. What law regulates dietary supplements?

The FDA works in accordance with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 for dealing with dietary supplements and related allegations. According to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as amended by the DSHEA and the FDA regulations, these businesses must ensure that their products are safe and properly labeled before releasing into the market.

2. What claims are allowed on dietary supplements?

Three types of claims are outlined by law, and/or FDA rules are permitted to be used on food and dietary supplement labels. They are

  • Health claims:

These claims describe the relationship between a dietary supplement or its constituents and the reduced risk of disease.

  • Nutrient content claims:

These claims characterize the level or the dosage of vitamins and minerals in the product

  • Structure/function claims:

These claims depict the essential benefits of the product on a particular structure or function in the human body

3. Are protein powders FDA-approved?

The FDA does not have any control over protein powder (FDA). To ensure the product is what the manufacturer says it is, it is crucial to select protein powders that have undergone independent testing.

The FDA defers manufacturers in determining a product’s safety and labeling. Therefore, there is no way to verify whether a protein powder includes what its manufacturers say it does.

Select protein powders approved by the National Sanitation Foundation, the United States Pharmacopeia, and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) (NSF).

4. What supplements did FDA ban?

The following are some of the supplementary dietary products banned by the FDA.

  1. GARDEN’S SECRET 16 in 1 Turmeric
  2. Turmeric Miracle Herb
  3. GERRY’S Mangosteen Tea
  4. PARADISE Vitamin D3 5000 IU Dietary Supplement
  5. 21st Century Sandardized Saw Palmetto Extract Dietary Supplement
  6. Laci le Beau Super Dieter’s Tea Lemon Mint Herbal Dietary Supplement
  7. Laci le Beau Super Dieter’s Tea Acai Berry Herbal Dietary Supplement
  8. CALIFORNIA GOLD NUTRITION COLLAGEN UP 5000 Marine Sourced Collagen Peptides + Hyaluronic Acid + Vitamin C Dietary Supplement
  1. What kinds of claims about supplements are not allowed by law?

Dietary supplements generally aren’t allowed to make “disease” claims. For instance, a dietary supplement should not claim that using the product would help the consumer treat or reduce the severity of a disease or illness. Dietary supplements that make medical claims will be subject to the FDA regulation.

Dietary Supplement Lawsuits for Deceptive Marketing

The number of dietary supplement lawsuits reported in 2021 was less when compared to 45 in 2020 and 65 in 2019. As per the reports, lawsuits alleging misleading labeling made up about 70% of those filed in 2021.

California saw the most class action lawsuit filings (12), followed by New York (6). Consumers can sue for any regulatory infraction under California’s Unfair Competition Law, even if the statute does not explicitly allow consumer enforcement.

GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart received cease-and-desist letters from the New York State Attorney General’s office ordering them to stop selling various dietary and herbal supplements. The products like Gingko, Ginseng, and Echinacea were listed for misleading labeling and deceptive marketing.

In response to pressure from product liability attorneys and the growing number of class action herbal supplement mislabeling lawsuits, Walgreens and Target agreed to take select supplements off their shelves.

Instead, it is the duty of producers and distributors to assess the safety of the dietary supplements they create and sell. This has frequently resulted in deceptive advertising and fake goods.

Walmart

A class action complaint recently named Walmart as a defendant, alleging that the retailer’s tablets containing the dietary supplement glucosamine sulphate are mislabeled. According to the plaintiffs, the substance comprises a combination of potassium sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride.

According to the claim, Walmart purposefully chose low-quality products to reduce expenses. The deceptive supplement advertising class action lawsuit accuses Walmart of deliberately misrepresenting and mislabeling the vitamin. Based on consumer protection laws, attorneys seek damages. Prevagen is another dietary supplement manufacturer under lawsuits for deceiving customers.

Prevagen

Prevagen, a nutritional supplement for brain functioning, claims on the top of the box that it supports healthy brain function, a sharper intellect, and better thinking and memory.

According to the box’s side, the Food and Drug Administration has not reviewed these statements. The product label says that no disease is intended to be diagnosed, treated, cured, or prevented by the product.

How to play safe with dietary supplements?

Consult your healthcare provider before taking dietary supplements to treat a health condition.

Get your healthcare provider’s approval before taking dietary supplements in place of or in combination with prescribed medicines.

If you are scheduled to have any surgical procedure, talk with your healthcare provider about any supplements you take.

Keep in mind the term “natural” doesn’t always mean safe. Some all-natural botanical products, for example, comfrey and kava, can harm the liver. A dietary supplement’s safety depends on many things, such as its chemical makeup, how it works in the body, how it is prepared, and the amount you take.

Before taking any dietary supplement, seek advice from your physician. If you are prescribed any medicine or going for a surgical procedure, inform your doctor about the dietary supplements you are taking. This may help to avoid any harmful side effects.

Some dietary supplements may alter a medicine’s metabolism, excretion, or absorption. If that happens, the medication’s efficacy may fluctuate, which might cause getting too much or not enough of the medication you need.

When used with the herbal supplement St. John’s wort, medications for HIV/AIDS, heart disease, depression, organ transplant therapies, and birth control pills, for example, are less effective. Depending on the medication taken, the results could be disastrous.

It is advisable not to fall after the so-called ‘natural’ dietary supplements. The dietary supplement manufacturers gain profit with the glamour of the term dietary supplements among all age groups. Keep an eye on the composition of the product you use and use it at safe levels.

If you ever feel that you are not feeling ok with the dietary supplement, immediately stop using the product and seek medical attention.

The companies involved in producing and distributing dietary and food supplements can take steps to prevent dietary supplement class actions from occurring. If these companies stay up to date on the state of class actions and take an all-inclusive strategy to labeling, they will be well-equipped and well-positioned to fight back food and supplement class action suits.

The companies should make sure that their labels adhere to relevant FDA rules. It is always advantageous to audit all current labeling and marketing materials and make them consistent with current FDA standards. This would avoid dietary supplement label claims.

The manufacturers and distributors should be firm that all their claims concerning items are adequately and firmly supported.

To conclude, nothing compares to a healthy diet’s nutrient power.

Stay healthy, and be happy…

Let’s hear about your experience with dietary supplements. Share your stories in the comment box.