For the study, the researchers looked at adverse event reports between January 2004 and April 2015 in the US and analyzed the relative risk for severe medical events such as death, disability and hospitalisation in individuals aged zero and 25 years that were linked with the use of dietary supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building, or energy compared to vitamins.
They found that there were 977 single-supplement-related adverse event reports for the target age group. Of those, approximately 40 percent involved severe medical outcomes, including death and hospitalization.
Supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building and energy were associated with almost three times the risk for severe medical outcomes compared to vitamins, said the study.
“Many of these products have been found to be adulterated with prescription pharmaceuticals, banned substances, heavy metals, pesticides, and other dangerous chemicals,” said S. Bryn Austin, Professor at Harvard University.