Use Caution When Searching for Supplements
Dietary supplements—vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, plus substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, and metabolites—make up a significant portion of the CAM industry. Information on these products can easily be found on the Internet. And yet, the effectiveness of many of these supplements remains unproven. Here are some things you need to know when searching CAM websites.
What’s on the Internet?There’s no shortage of data regarding dietary supplements on the Internet. Many sites dedicated to oral health supplements are retail sites selling products or linked directly to a vendor. Many of these sites claim to treat, prevent, diagnose, or even cure specific diseases. But how credible are these claims? Other sites are personal sites without links to vendors; government, industry or academic sites describing particular supplements; and sites containing referenced articles about the supplements.
False ClaimsWeb-based health claims about supplements are not always true. Websites may contain incorrect or misleading statements, some of which can directly result in serious harm to consumers.
Failure to Disclose InformationHowever, it is not only the claims made on these websites that can be misleading. The information many sites choose not to disclose can be equally dangerous. Some retail CAM websites leave out the standard federal disclaimer, which informs the user that the website’s information is general in nature and cannot take the place of medical evaluation, diagnoses, and treatment by a health care provider. Many do not disclose potential adverse health effects such as heart attacks, strokes, arrhythmias, increased blood pressure, and heart palpitations. Others leave out the recommended dosage of supplements. The information on some websites that is intended to enhance your health may actually jeopardize it.