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Health Beat: Tainted vitamins: Protect yourself

Published On: Oct 11 2013 01:25:28 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 15 2013 10:00:00 AM EDT

Health Beat:Tainted Vitamins


The FDA recently issued a recall after steroids were found in one brand of supplements.

There are some things, however, you can do to keep you and your family safe. The choices are endless.

"I think for consumers, it is really a challenge," said Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, director of occupational and environmental medicine, North Shore-LIJ Health System.


It’s a challenge to find vitamins and supplements that work and won’t hurt you.

"I think that’s how you really empower yourself," said Lynn Fuchs, a  consumer.

"I would rather pay the extra dollar in case there's a problem," said another consumer, Marc Bendeth.

Spaeth recently noticed a problem. About 20 of his patients, who were taking the same brand and type of supplements, were all getting sick. Some men lost their libido. Some women's voices became deeper and they grew facial hair.

"They didn’t know what was happening to them," Spaeth said.

Spaeth said he suspected that three Healthy Life Chemistry Supplements — B-50, multi-mineral, and vitamin C — all had contaminants and the signs were consistent with the presence of steroids. His suspicions led to a national recall.

Howard Chasser, owner of a health food store, said you need to be careful. 

"There are some bad players out there like any other industry," Chasser said.

Chasser offers you three safety tips: First, choose a well-known brand. There are brands that contract the manufacturing process out, but many companies that do this have significantly less control over the quality of their products.

Also, do your research. If the bottle says "manufactured for," then you can start by calling the contractor for information on raw materials used.

"Ask questions," Chasser said, and also be critical. If the claims on the bottle sound too good to be true, Chasser said they probably are.

"There’s no magic pill," Chasser said.

Spaeth advised that you always check with your doctor before taking any vitamin or supplement.

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