Zero Deaths from Supplements, Tens of Thousands of Deaths from Prescription Drugs
We keep on hearing the scare stories on the news and from the daily newspapers, so let’s put this into perspective. Unfortunately, we can’t find similar figures from the UK authorities but the US FDA and the National Poison Data System (NPDS) seem to keep pretty meticulous records of “adverse effects” from, among other things, drugs and supplements.
Every year, the American Association of Poison Control Center’s NPDS releases an annual report that tracks deaths and serious adverse events as a result of poisoning from a wide variety of substances, including drugs and supplements. NPDS is “the only comprehensive, near real-time, poisoning surveillance database in the United States.”
Deaths from Supplements
According to the most recent report, ZERO Americans died from taking any supplement in 2013. That includes anything from substances that must be taken with care and medical guidance, such as kava kava or yohimbe, or ayurvedic medicines (which must be sourced with care to be sure they are free from heavy metals), to standard vitamins and amino acids, to the gentlest homeopathic remedies.
Of course, to most of us in the natural health world, this is unsurprising. Dietary supplements have an exemplary track record of safety. In fact, ANH International calculated that, according to the European Union’s own data, we are more likely to be struck and killed by lightning than die from taking a supplement.
Deaths from Prescription Drugs
Properly prescribed (FDA-approved) prescription drugs, on the other hand, cause an estimated 1.9 million hospitalisations or hospital treatments and 128,000 deaths each year. And this is very incomplete data because it only concerns hospitals.
Despite these impressive safety numbers for supplements, the FDA, public health officials, certain academics, and some public officials continue to rail against supplements as unsafe and unregulated, using “consumer safety” as a smokescreen. If they were really concerned about the public, why not make drugs safer?
The warnings of dire consequences seem to be everywhere. Whether on the back of nutritional supplement packages or in the disapproving look or sneer of your own family physician, the implication is always there: nutritional supplements can ruin your health, even cause your death.
Fortunately, all those red flags are unnecessary. For all the hand-wringing, predictions of catastrophe and strong-worded reservations, a recent study of all poisonings shows there has not been a single death traced to the use of nutritional supplements. Meanwhile, prescription drugs – those properly prescribed – account for 128,000 deaths and 2.74 million serious adverse reactions each year.
“In total, 443,900 deaths from prescription medication were reported to one of the US’s poison centres, with analgesics—or pain-killers—being the deadliest poison, responsible for 11 per cent of all deaths reported. Sedatives and antidepressants were the fifth and sixth major killers respectively.
“Of these, 275,000 were due to some error—such as a wrong dose—and 130,000 were caused by unintentional misuse, such as taking the drug more frequently than prescribed. Nearly 40,000 deaths were attributed to an adverse reaction to a drug that was properly prescribed and taken.
“But there were no deaths recorded from anyone taking a mineral supplement, such as calcium, magnesium, zinc or iron, or an amino acid or herbal, such as blue cohosh, Echinacea, ginkgo biloba, kava kava, valerian or St John’s wort.
“If nutritional supplements are allegedly so dangerous, as the US’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the news media and even some physicians still claim, then where are the bodies?” 
The bodies we did find are 4 deaths related to taking diet pills containing 2-4 dinitrophenol (DNP), first used as an ingredient in explosives! Workers exposed to DNP lost weight, felt fatigued, sweated excessively and exhibited elevated body temperature. The most publicised death was Eloise Aimee Parry who died after taking 8 weight loss tablets, 6 more than a lethal dose, which she purchased online on more than one occasion from a seller in Germany.
Let’s not forget one product, legally on sale all over the UK and USA that carries no warnings about dosage, potential side effects or death, that has caused the deaths of 8,697 people in the UK in 2014 alone, and causes the deaths of 88,000 people every year in the USA – ALCOHOL. I haven’t heard anything from the UK Food Standards Authority (FSA) or the US FDA about this, could the tax revenue generated by selling poison have anything to do with it?
So the next time you see a headline such as “Confirmed: vitamin pills can cause death”, “Vitamins and Supplements May Lead to Earlier Death” (even some “respectable” scientific publications are propagating these lies, such as the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)), please dig a little deeper and find the truth.
In the meantime, you can find a good selection of supplements that we guarantee won’t kill you at www.supplementplace.co.uk
Ref: 1 Andrew W. Saul, Editor | Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, January 5, 2017
Have Your Say
Do let us know your thoughts on any of these points, we greatly value your input.
Colin Leadbetter, Director, Supplement Place