5 On Your Side

Not all botanical supplements are good for you

Posted February 17, 2020 5:26 p.m. EST
Updated February 18, 2020 11:40 a.m. EST

— Fifty-four percent of Americans take supplemental vitamins to improve their mental or physical health. Millions of people are spending billions of dollars on supplements. Everything from vitamins and minerals to botanicals like turmeric. Last year botanical selling companies made nearly $9 billion.

Many consumers assume they're safe, regulated, and effective. A Consumer Reports’ investigation reveals that’s not always the case.

Jillian McEvoy describes herself as a "health nut." “I take 12 supplements a day. I take different supplements for different things. My main thing is for energy because I’ve been having a lot of fatigue lately.” McEvoy said.

Consumer Reports Health Editor, Kevin Loria, said, "Supplement manufacturers are not actually required to demonstrate to the government that their products are effective." According Loria, a consumer may not be sure whether or not the products are safe for consumption either. Loria also said that there is lack of research on possible side effects of supplements. "These supplements can really come with risks which can range from mild to severe,” said Loria.

Consumer Reports says saw palmetto can cause headaches, milk thistle can trigger allergic reactions, and green tea extract has been linked to liver damage and elevated blood pressure.

"The bottom line is that we simply don't have enough evidence to show how safe or effective many of these supplements are," said Loria.

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