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Truth or Myth: Taking Stock of Dietary Supplements’ Harmful Effects on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults

This study has been rocking the boat nation wide on many news and health sites. Unfortunately, people aren’t spending any time reading the abstract or the article to determine if the findings are credible. Instead reporters, pediatricians, and I’m sure others are repeating some of their unsupported data and conclusions that they wrote in the study.

Listen in and Enjoy

If you listen to Episode 523 of Iron Radio, the show hosts discuss this paper in great detail. Starts at 36:00 and ends at 45:44.

Issues with the Study

Some issues with the study is that they used an observational study design which correct me if I’m wrong is one of the weakest study designs that exists to show any relationships. 

The data that they looked at focused on multiple groups of people ranging from a few months old to 25 years of age. You can’t bundle that range together and say everything effects that age range equally.  I seriously doubt they controlled for pre existing medical conditions and history 

They also don’t mention in the paper which weight loss, muscle building, or energy increasing supplements or brands were being reported by the FDA and analyzed for this paper. The researchers mention all of the supplements like they are all one thing. They researchers won’t disclose any details in the abstract which everyone else does, and they want people to pay them $40 to see their list of “supplements”. This poses 3 issues: 

1. consumers wouldn’t get any useful information about which supplement companies or types to avoid or be skeptical of 

2. they won’t tell you what dosages were people consuming of what products and is that more then what was on the label 

3. the FDA hasn’t spend any time or money in years testing supplements from all of the large or small companies out there to verify the ingredient lists in supplements. This is neither good nor bad for the consumer but it puts into question the data used as evidence to write this paper when all of the supplement categories they mention is causing all of these hospitalizations or death in kids or young adults when the FDA doesn’t regulate or have a comment or knowledge of the contents of most supplements in the U.S. 

Final Thoughts

I feel like this study is simply rocking the boat and playing with people emotions without giving out any accurate information to support their claims. I would recommend that you disregard this paper and do your own research on the products you are using and the tested physiological effects they have on the body which is supported by randomized control trials that have already been done and what your blood work is showing you. 


Flora Or, Yongjoo Kim, Juliana Simms, S. Bryn Austin. Taking Stock of Dietary Supplements’ Harmful Effects on Children, Adolescents, and Young AdultsJournal of Adolescent Health, June 5, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.03.005