Consumer alert- Dangers of supplements

From fitness, to overall health, have found their way into the lives of many people, like Jules Lee.

Last year he took supplements to boost his workouts, but starting feeling weak after a month.  As an Army veteran with no prior health issues, Lee ignored it. Then, on Good Friday weekend he was rushed to the hospital.  For the next seven months Lee would battle a drug induced form of hepatitis, jaundice and abnormally high levels of toxins in his body. His liver and pancreas nearly failed. “My pancreas level was in the 33,000 it should’ve ruptured. I had to be rushed to Lafayette General Hospital where they started treating me for the pancreas levels my pancreas stopped making insulin so I became a temporary diabetic. I was up for twenty four hours scratching itching my mom and my fiancé would fall asleep patting me on my back.”

Lee says he lost sixty pounds and was unable to return to his job because pain was excoriating. “I would literally think someone threw gasoline on me, red ants and just lit it on fire.”

Lee’s experience raises several questions about taking supplements.

Are they worth the money?  Do they even work?  And, more importantly, are they safe?

Local doctors say consumers should be aware that supplements are not subject to safety testing requirements by the Federal Drug and Food Administration.

Doctor Stephanie Aldret practices family and sports medicine at the Regional Medical Center of Acadiana.  She says, “There is no guarantee that what you’re taking in that substance in that pills exactly what they’ve put on the bottle it could just be a pill of dirt.”

Doctor Stewart Cayton works with the Aestetic Medicine and Anti-Aging Clinic in Lafayette.  He says, “People are going to use the cheapest ingredients they can get to make the biggest profit and that necessarily isn’t what’s best for the clients.”

The clinic only sells pharmaceutical grade supplements.  Dr. Cayton says consumers should research the manufacturer before taking their product. “Look for the keywords pharmaceutical grade supplements those are going to be the companies that do the third party testing those are the ones that you’re going to be getting what you’re paying for.

“Look to see if on the bottle they have a U.S. pharmacy emblem on it,” says Dr. Aldret.

Dr. Aldret sees a lot of supplement use in practice.  She says the golden rule is to always consult a physician. “Whether it’s your physician or natural path or an herbalist somebody that’s got a deeper knowledge of what’s going on with the supplements can lead you in a better way.”

Lee says his experience brought him closer to God and hopes his story highlights the hidden dangers of taking supplements. “What got me to endure what I was able to do was my belief in Jesus Christ. My faith in him was so strong. You don’t know what kind of chemical reaction your body might have. This person didn’t have it but its ‘no–so’ to say that you wouldn’t.  I followed everything to the “T” that was told to me, how to take them, and yet I still ended up being a statistic of a person that could’ve died.”

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