Tuesday, May 12th, 2009...10:32 AM
There is No Magic Bullet
Alas, the FDA has had to pull yet another diet product from the market due to one death and several reports of other problems, mostly related to liver damage. The most recent victim? Hydroxycut. Not all products are affected. See the details here. In fairness, here is Hydroxycut’s position.
Millions of people purchase products like Hydroxycut. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that just because supplements are available over-the-counter does not make them inherently safe. Supplements are not required to go through the rigorous testing and approval process required for pharmaceutical drugs, yet think about the adverse events you hear about all the time related to drugs that HAVE been tested.
For years (in another career), I have worked in quality assurance with laboratories and other businesses doing pharmaceutical research regulated by the FDA. Based on what I have seen, I won’t take even an approved drug until it has been on the market for five years, if I can help it. Even after extensive clinical trials, we just don’t know what a drug will do once it is thrown into the complex soup that is the general population. So, I am even more cautious with the untested supplements I take. I only take supplements from reputable manufacturers for deficiencies, etc. for which I have an actual laboratory test result and completely under the supervision of my doctor. Still, I don’t like taking pills as they all have risks of potential side effects. In fact, currently, I am working on figuring out which foods are highest in the vitamins, minerals, etc. that I am deficient in, so that I can eat more of those foods and eventually get off the pills.
As a personal trainer, it is against my personal ethics and outside my scope of practice to recommend supplementation to my clients. When it comes to getting fit and losing weight, the safest approach is always a healthy diet coupled with adequate exercise. It’s not easy or glamorous, but it works. Take home point–be as cautious (if not more so) when taking supplements as you would be with pharmaceutical drugs.
About the Author:
Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.