4 reflexes to avoid scams and dangers of...

4 reflexes to avoid scams and dangers of…

When the miracle pill with guarana for weight loss sends you to the emergency room, there is reason to doubt its composition… The National Food Safety Agency (Anses) has multiplied alerts concerning food supplements in recent months. But they are of several kinds: real scams on the Internet, overdosed products, plants that conflict with certain treatments… To avoid bad mixes, here are some tips.

Be careful with online purchases

Main risk: “adulterated products”, that is to say which contain a hidden substance, sold exclusively on the Internet, in particular on social networks. “Consumers swallow food supplements, which they believe are plant-based, and without their knowledge they take Viagra, sometimes in large quantities!”, explains Juliette Bloch, doctor at the head of the health alerts and vigilance department. at ANSES. A tablespoon of an “aphrodisiac honey”, this can be the equivalent of 4 viagra tablets!” Another example: “slimming” pills based on illegal appetite suppressants… Thus, Chewell, sold on Facebook , was composed of an anorectic banned since 2010 for cardiovascular risk and phenolphthalein, banned since 1988, because carcinogenic…

For Juliette Bloch, no quarter, you have to avoid buying your food supplements on the Internet, especially on social networks. “Especially the brands that you don’t know, the products exclusively sold on the Internet, on foreign sites, with catchy names”, specifies Juliette Bloch. But you can continue to buy your usual food supplements on the website of a drugstore with a storefront, if that’s your habit.

Read also > Proper use of food supplements

Check contraindications with your doctor

Beyond these cases of serious but rare fraud, taking food supplements every day is not trivial. “In general, you should know that food supplements are not systematically checked, neither for the concentration of products, nor for their quality, continues Juliette Bloch. However, they may be contraindicated either because of the person’s health or because of their treatment” Thus, some products that contain vitamin K do not mix well with anticoagulants. “The best thing is, before taking food supplements, to talk to your doctor so that he looks carefully at the composition”, assures the epidemiologist. And above all, do not hesitate, if you have undesirable effects, to talk to him about it. “People do not necessarily think that plants can interact with drugs and general practitioners do not always have the reflex to ask the question”, she regrets.

Look carefully at the labels

Other prevention measure: watch your product content. Some people allergic to pollen expose themselves to potentially fatal risks if they consume bee products, which are not necessarily marked on the package. Even a food as banal as salt can give you unpleasant surprises. “Some salts are composed not of sodium chloride, but of potassium chloride“, underlines Juliette Bloch. This salt, nicknamed “diet”, is prized by patients wishing to reduce their consumption of the precious condiment. “It is not easy to notice that it is potassium, because it is sold in supermarket without any warning. However, it is contraindicated for chronically ill people who take certain treatments for diabetes or heart disease.” With a risk that ranges from abnormal fatigue to potentially fatal heart rhythm disorders.

Follow ANSES alerts

And even if you have no allergies or treatment, beware of dosages. “You have to look carefully at the label and respect the dosage (dose and frequency indicated)”, insists Juliette Bloch. Because some plants, completely innocuous, even recommended, can be harmful at high doses.

This is why taking a look at the Vigil’Anses site, where ANSES regularly publishes the latest alerts from the field, allows you to be aware of the latest discoveries. Who could suspect turmeric, touted for its digestive, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, to be responsible for certain types of hepatitis? And yet, in June 2022, the authority had received no less than 100 reports of adverse effects likely to be linked to the consumption of food supplements containing turmeric or curcumin, including 15 hepatitis. Another alert, from 2021, looked at cinnamon. Because taken in high doses, coumarin, contained in cinnamon, also presents a risk of toxicity to the liver.

What if you notice side effects?

You must immediately notify your doctor or a poison control center. It is very important to keep capsules and package, which will enable ANSES to look for any hidden substances and identify them. Another good reflex: report adverse effects on the nutrivigilance site, which feeds the opinions of ANSES. Just so that your misadventure can be used to protect other consumers…