Supplement Safety For New Year’s Weight Loss Plans

MIAMI (CBS4) – To help jump start his day, Ronald Kaufman blends up a special potion of yogurt and nutritional supplements.

“It’s 20 different things that I put into the drink,” said Kaufman.

Ronald is one of the 150 million Americans who take nutritional supplements daily. In fact, sales of supplements totaled $28 billion dollars in 2010.

“Consumers really start to make New Year’s resolutions centering around a healthy lifestyle,” Kaufman said.

Which supplements are right for you and which ones are safe? Registered dietitian Erin Palinski explains dietary supplements are regulated by the Federal Government as a category of food, not as a drug.

“Medications are tested and verified for potency and purity. With dietary supplements, there is no testing standard, and that’s where we can run into issues,” Palinski pointed out.

She says if you want to use supplements you need to be a savvy shopper, including reading labels and the list of ingredients.

Those who are looking to build muscle and improve performance often tout the benefits of protein, creatine and C-L-A. Though studies on creative and C-L-A are mixed, all three are generally considered safe if taken at recommended levels.

“Even generally safe supplement ingredients, if you’re taking them in too high a dose, can be potentially dangerous,” explained Palinski.

That could lead to things such as dehydration, increase risk for kidney stones and gastrointestinal issues.

One of the most popular supplements for athletes looking to boost their energy is caffeine.

“In up to about 300 mg per day, it may help increase athletic performance, but above that amount we can run a risk, since it’s a stimulant, of increasing blood pressure. In very high amounts, it can actually lead to seizures,” Palinski stated.

Some fat burning supplements which contain a mix of herbal ingredients can also act as a stimulant. Are they effective? Our experts say there’s no clear-cut answer yet.

In the meantime, the Council for Responsible Nutrition says it is smart to always consult your doctor first.

“Long-term use of certain fat burners can have some very adverse events in the liver.”

Also, keep an eye out for ephedrine, which has been banned by the FDA. You should also check labels for bitter orange, also referred to as synephrine. It is similar to the main chemical in ephedrine and the government says there’s little evidence that it is any safer.

“This has been linked with many serious side effects, including stroke and heart attack.”

If you choose to use athletic or weight loss supplements, everyone agrees… watch where you buy. Stick with reputable brands and retailers.

“If a claim for a dietary supplement is too good to be true, then it probably is,” said Palinski.

More from Marybel Rodriguez
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