Dietary Supplement Safety

The American Association of Poison Control Centers recently published their annual report—174 pages documenting 2009 data from all 61 poison control centers across the U.S. In this report, there were no deaths reported from any vitamin, amino acid, herb, or dietary mineral supplement.

And the dietary supplement industry has been touted as “dangerous and unregulated.” Ha! Let’s take a closer look at the Poison Control Report. Medications were the leading cause of poisoning deaths in 2009. Analgesics (pain relievers), sedatives, hypnotics, and antipsychotics were the medications most frequently involved in poison-related deaths.

Drug-related deaths are a major concern in the U.S. Medication errors are a particular problem, with about 1.5 million people harmed by these mistakes each year. Fully 7,000 of these mistakes result in death, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine study.

It certainly puts things in perspective. I’m glad to see that with increasing scrutiny of the dietary supplement industry, natural products are becoming more widely known to be safe and effective. Dietary supplements have only recently been included in the Poison Control Center reports, and so far are proving to be far safer than pharmaceutical medications, despite the bad press.

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