Weight loss and energy supplements sold in the U.S. may have potentially dangerous and inaccurately labeled levels of the banned stimulant higenamine, according to new study.
Higenamine is a substance banned by the World’s Anti-Doping Agency in sports, although it is legal for the use of supplements in the United States, Canada and Europe.
Study co-author John Travis says, “we’re urging competitive and amateur athletes, as well as general consumers, to think twice before consuming a product that contains higenamine.”
I believe athletes should be aware when consuming products that contain this type of stimulant because they can risk being disqualified from events and damage their health as well. Nutritionists should be careful when giving these athletes supplements that contain these particular stimulants and make sure the competitors know exactly what they are taking.
“Beyond the doping risk for athletes, some of these products contain extremely high doses of a stimulant with unknown safety and potential cardiovascular risks when consumed,” said Travis, senior research scientist at the public health organization NSF International in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“Consumers also need to be savvy shoppers — choosing brands they trust and buying from reputable retailers, distributors or websites. It is also important to stay away from products whose claims sound too good to be true,” he said.
In the new study, Travis and researchers reviewed 24 products labeled as containing higenamine or the synonyms “norcoclaurine” or “demethylcoclaurine.” They discovered unpredictable and potentially harmful amounts of the stimulant that varied from trace levels to 62 milligrams a serving.
Of the 24 products, only five listed a specific quantity of higenamine on the label, and none of those was accurate.
Although it is unknown what types of effects high dosage of higenamine have on the human body, a series of preliminary studies suggest it might have profound effects on the heart and other organs.
Dietary supplements are linked with 23,000 visits to U.S. emergency departments each year. Weight-loss and sports supplements account for a large portion of such visits, the researchers noted.
The study was published Sept. 6 in the journal Clinical Toxicology.
SOURCES: NSF International, news release, Sept. 6, 2018; statement, Sept. 11, 2018, Duffy MacKay, senior vice president, science and regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition
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