NEWS | Nov. 18, 2013

Supplement safety begins with you

By Airman 1st Class Hannah Leonard 628th Medical Group, Public Health technician

"Lose up to 20 pounds fast with this new, all-natural, energy enhancing, fat-burning supplement!"

"Try these new rapid-release thermo-capsules, increase muscle tone and burn fat while increasing energy!"

"Eat what you want, don't exercise and lose weight!"

These are often the claims made by dietary supplement firms that promote various products, but what exactly are you consuming to get these body changing results? Are you sure that you can trust the label? Did you know that dietary supplements are not Federal Drug Administration approved and dietary supplement firms do not need FDA approval to market their products? This leaves the industry largely unregulated.

Two such supplements, OxyElite Pro and VERSA-1, have garnered worldwide attention recently because of their association with potential devastating health effects. They are both weight loss and muscle enhancing supplements with an active ingredient called Aegeline that has been deemed contaminated. Aegeline has been linked to seven confirmed cases of acute non-viral hepatitis, a severe illness of the liver that has the following symptoms: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay colored bowel movements, joint pain, yellow eyes and jaundice.

In addition to the seven confirmed cases of hepatitis, the Food and Drug Administration is currently investigating 40 additional cases linked to the consumption of OxyElite Pro within 60 days prior to diagnosis. The use and dangers are so widespread, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently notified the World Health Organization that the acute hepatitis cases related to these supplements are a potential Public Health Event of International Concern ... an event that can have a significant impact on health worldwide!

According to the CDC, OxyElite Pro and VERSA-1 are distributed out of Dallas, Texas, by a company called USP Labs LLC, and are sold nation-wide in retail stores and on the internet. The FDA is currently reviewing the production of the supplement and investigating the possibility of a counterfeit version of OxyElite Pro that is marketed in the U.S. The FDA has issued a warning letter to USP Labs LLC, informing the company to cease production of OxyElite Pro because of the adulterated ingredients that pose a threat to human safety. As of October 2013, USP Labs LLC has voluntarily cooperated with the cease of production as the supplement undergoes investigation.

It is important for consumers to research and learn how to distinguish between safe and tainted dietary supplements. A few key factors to help choose a dietary supplement include: use supplements that have undergone third party certification to validate manufacturing practices, look up supplements on the CDC website to see if they are undergoing investigation, ask doctors and nutritionists about supplement ingredients and use the Operation Supplement Safety website found at: http://hprc-online.org/dietary-supplements/opss in order to stay educated.

Finally, if the product makes claims that sound too good to be true, it probably is.