vitamins could benefit before conceptionIn the battle to lose weight, you will hear every miracle story out there–how just taking a  pill drops pounds without ever making another change. However, doctors warn that taking these mystery drugs could do serious damage to your health and not keep the weight off permanently.  According to an article published in the 2011 edition of Prevention magazine, doctors are warning patients about the risks of diet drugs laced with prescription-level doses of medications that may or may not even be listed on the label. And some of these drugs have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.

Some of the most dangerous drugs are marketed online through retailers that sneak in ingredients like extra caffeine, secret stimulants, diuretics, antidepressants and other ingredients not listed on the labels. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in charge of most medications and foods distributed in the U.S., and for the most part do a pretty good job of monitoring what the public has access to. However, in the case of online weight loss supplement sales, a spokesperson for the group admits that the group lacks the authority to go after these companies. There are just not enough people and not enough funds to support the effort it would take to oversee this large class of weight loss drugs.

Be a wise consumer

That means that you–the consumer–has to protect yourself. Now I know that you want to lose weight. Just about everyone does, and if you are morbidly overweight and struggle to get it off, I can see where these “miracle” drugs would seem like a good option. However–doctors say that there’s no weight loss drug that is safe for the long term. None. And once you stop taking them, you are likely to gain back all of the weight you lost plus some. Why? Because you never changed your lifestyle habits, and those bad choices that put the weight on are still raging. It’s really a lose-lose battle.

Here are a few ways you can stay safe:

  • Take your supplements cautiously. Ask your doctor for his or her recommendation of safe supplements. Of course vitamins and supplements like fish oil and calcium are standard and very safe–just make sure you are using one that has a seal of approval from NSF International, the United States Pharmacopeia or These third party companies are paid to evaluate supplements for ingredient accuracy, safety and purity. At least you’ll get a little peace of mind there.
  • Talk to others about side effects. If you have tried a weight loss drug and experienced dangerous side effects like vomiting, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke or any other issue, say something! The MedWatch Safety Reporting Program put in place by the FDA wants to hear about your experience so they can further explore problems with these supplements. They will never know if you don’t speak up.
  • Overall, you should say no to all weight loss supplements. Even though they look “safe” and use words like “all natural”, chances are those claims are false. And I’m sorry to say that the only proven, safe way to lose weight is through a healthy diet and exercise.