60 million consumers warn against dietary supplements

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60 million consumers warn against dietary supplements

For its latest special issue, the magazine analyzed 120 food supplements. Lack of effectiveness and unsuspected risks are at the rendezvous.

Stress, short-lived fatigue, difficulty getting to sleep… Faced with everyday worries, it can be tempting to seek help from food supplements. Are they really that effective? And above all, are they risk-free? To find out for sure, the magazine 60 Millions de consommateurs screened 120 products among those most purchased during the winter. The results, detailed in a special issue released on October 10, are not reassuring.

Cocktails of vitamins, spirulina, plants, essential oils, magnesium, iron, probiotics, omega 3…Among the 120 food supplements analyzed, 59 were given the mention “to be avoided” and 50 the mention “for lack of anything better”. In the first case, this means that the product contains “problematic substances and (or) the warnings and recommendations are very insufficient”, explains 60 Million consumers. In the second case, it only means that the product MAY contain problematic substances. Still, only 10% of the products studied are validated by the consumer association.

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Lack of control

According to the magazine, the regulations governing the marketing of food supplements are “very insufficient”. While drug manufacturers must prove the efficacy and safety of their products through extensive clinical studies, food supplement manufacturers are largely relieved of these constraints. All they have to do is communicate information about labeling and composition to the General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF).

But in practice, “the authority is not required to verify either the effectiveness according to the proposed dosage, nor the safety of each product”, explains the review. In the absence of a response from the DGCCRF, which has two months to validate or not the request, the product is automatically authorised. “Dangerous, fraudulent or polluted capsules are therefore only identified a posteriori, in the event of an inspection”, underlines the special issue.

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Useless, except in special cases

In addition to the question of safety, there is the question of usefulness: do we really need these dietary supplements? Yes, in some well-known cases. For example, pregnant women are systematically supplemented with vitamin B9 to avoid any risk of neurological malformation in the fetus. There are also pathologies, such as Crohn’s disease, which, by reducing the absorption of nutrients, make it necessary to take vitamins or minerals.

But what about a healthy person? “Even if we do not always feed ourselves correctly, the French population as a whole has, a priori, no need for any particular nutritional supplementation, unless otherwise advised by a health professional”, recalls the magazine. Clearly, a balanced diet is more than enough to meet the micronutrient needs of a healthy person.

” READ ALSO – What are vitamins really for?

No proven effectiveness and risks

Despite attractive claims (which are strictly framed), it must be borne in mind that food supplements have absolutely not had to prove their effectiveness, unlike drugs. However, manufacturers do not hesitate to borrow drug codes: names, packaging… As well as to add references to nature that seduce the public in these times of mistrust.

Despite this image of natural products that would necessarily be beneficial, food supplements sometimes contain active substances that are far from harmless. Allergenic essential oils, interactions with drugs, overdose, risk of contamination for spirulina, hidden ingredients, presence of additives or flavorings suspected of being the cause of disorders, difficulty of traceability with products purchased on the internet. .. 60 million consumers bluntly list all possible risks.

In a press release published on October 10, the National Union of Food Supplements (Synadiet) expressed its “astonishment” at this special issue. In a lyrical outburst, he insists on the fact that “food supplements come from age-old traditions belonging to the heritage of humanity”. With this file, consumers are free to form an informed opinion.

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