Hyderabad: As many as 800 dietary supplements taken over the counter for sexual enhancement, muscle building and weight loss were found to be adulterated with steroids and other unapproved chemicals which have been identified by the Food and Drug Administration.
Common adulterants were sildenafil in sexual enhancement supplements, sibutramine for weight loss supplements and synthetic steroids or steroid-like ingredients in muscle building supplements. Incidentally, these products are imported in India and sold off the shelf where there is no checking carried out. The data was published in JAMA Network.
A senior drug control officer said, “Dietary supplements have boomed in the market but there is no system in place to monitor them. They are not identified in medicinal drugs. A policy framework is being worked out for nutraceuticals and dietary supplements, but are at a nascent stage.”
The data was studied from 2007 to 2016 and it was found that 45.5 per cent sexual enhancement supplements, 40.9 per cent weight loss and 11.9 per cent muscle building supplements which were openly sold in the market had unapproved ingredients.
Dr Sunitha Premlatha, senior nutritionist explained, “Before taking any supplement off the shelf it is very important to read the active ingredients, toxicity level and also safe consumption level. These labels give an idea of the supplement. Many of them which are flooding the market are also those which have to be used only in a hospital set-up. These need to be separated from those which can be used by the general public. There is a very fine line and people have to be aware not to pick up any product off the shelf without properly reading or taking expert guidance.”
Unapproved ingredient like sibutramine is approved to be prescribed only by endocrinologists but only for a short period of time. Those who are already on medications for thyroid or other metabolic disorders cannot take supplements off the shelf. Dr G Srinivas, senior physician explained, “For those who are on medication, the risk of drug interaction is high hence they must check what the supplement contains before opting for it.”
There are pre-workout and post-workout supplements which are being prescribed to young adults in gyms in the city and there is no regulatory mechanism as unnecessary supplementation can be harmful, said experts.