Could Your Favorite Supplements Be Putting You in Danger?

Consumer Reports says numerous supplements have been found to cause more harm than good.
3:42 | 07/27/16

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Transcript for Could Your Favorite Supplements Be Putting You in Danger?
first we've got a health alert about some vitamin supplements. "Consumer reports" is out with a new warning about certain dietary AIDS, they looked at a wide variety and found some can pose possible health risks. Millions of health conscious Americans take daily supplements, hoping to reap health benefits from weight loss and energy boost to lower cholesterol and memory enhancement but according to a new analysis by "Consumer reports" some supplements may be doing more harm than good to your body. Supplements are not regulated by the fda as a drug. They're regulated as a food and as a result, they have far less stringent regulations applied to them. They do not have to be proven to be safe and don't have to be proven to be effective to end up on store shelves. Reporter: According to "Consumer reports," some supplements may give consumers more than they bargained for. Some found come tamed in heavy metals. Other contain prescription or experimental or illegal drugs which could lead to serious organ damage, cancer or cardiac arrest. What we really want is for there to be laws enacted that ensure that the safety of supplements have been proven before they end up on store shelves. Reporter: Some could cause harmful side effects and make some prescription medications less effective. Supplements have labels that don't necessarily tell you what they're good for, how they're going to work, whether they will work. And you can't trust that they're going to work or that they're going to be safe by looking at the label. Reporter: All right, joining us now our senior medical contributor Dr. Jen Ashton who recently got her masters in nutrition, so congratulations on that. Thank you, sir. Welcome to the show as usual. "Consumer reports" found that more than half of American dulls believe these companies test their products to make sure they're safe. But what is your take on the benefits and risks of supplements. You know, it's a complex issue and it's not a yes or no question or answer. You are know, on the one hand I used to tell patients if they're healthy and eat well and don't have a chronic illness that supplements are unnecessary. But the reality is and I see this every day in my practice, a lot of people don't eat well or can't get these nutrients from food and they do have chronic conditions or on medications that make it difficult so it doesn't mean all good or all bad, it just means how to do it safely because this is an industry that has much looser regulations than prescription medication. But are there any supplements out there that are particularly bad and that you should avoid? 100%. So first of all you should avoid anything that promises or claims to be the fountain of youth or anything that says it's going to prevent or treat or cure a condition. Then there are these big categories and they include you mentioned some of them in the piece, weight loss, muscle building, sexual enhance many, depression or mood disorders. These are kind of the red flags. We have to remember supplements more does not mean better and natural does not mean safer. And, you know, but the vitamin, supplement sales are up so a lot are buying into this. What supplements do you think may be medically warranted. For some peep, not a whole list but pregnant women, we know they can benefit from supplements. People who are on certain medications, especially like proton pump inhibitors that have had weight loss surgery are those who have documented or diagnosed medical conditions or deficiencies, b12 and D very commonly described and recommended to elderly people and look for that usp seal, an indication that it has been tested and is relatively safe. Make sure you look for that seal. You're not done and you'll keep helping us because Dr. Ashton will tweet out a full list of supplement suggestions. Next it's workout Wednesday.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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