Dietary supplements are causing ‘severe’ health issues in kids

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A new study led by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health warns that dietary supplements are causing serious health issues in some kids and teens who consume them. These supplements, which are typically available to purchase over-the-counter at places like gas stations and grocery stores, claim to offer benefits like better energy and improved sports performance.

READ: Study warns teen “alternative medicine” use is growing

Somewhere between alternative medicine and legitimate medicine lies the vast, poorly regulated world of dietary supplements, a term applied to everything from over-the-counter herbs and vitamins to products that mix multiple compounds together. Dietary supplements remain very popular and purport to offer a variety of health benefits, including memory improvements, energy, and more.

A large number of teens and kids are consuming these dietary supplements, and according to the newly published study, they may experience a number of serious health issues as a result. The research looked specifically at supplements sold for things like weight loss and muscle building and compared them to the effects of ordinary vitamins.

When compared to vitamins, these dietary supplements were linked to almost three times the number of ‘severe medical outcomes’ in individuals ages 0 to 25. Of the 977 ‘adverse event reports’ that resulted from taking these supplements, the researchers found that around 40-percent had ‘severe medical outcomes,’ up to the point of hospitalization and even death.

The energy, muscle building, and energy supplements were associated with around three times the number of several health outcomes compared to vitamins; in contrast, colon cleanse and sexual function supplements were associated with around two times the risk for these outcomes compared to vitamins.

The study points out that these supplements may contain unexpected and harmful ingredients due to the relative lack of regulations. Some dietary supplements were found to include a variety of concerning compounds, including pesticides, heavy metals, and even prescription drugs.

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