The potential impact of dietary supplement adulteration on patient assessment and treatment from a healthcare provider’s perspective

Gary Gabriels, Mohamed Irhuma
South African Family Practice | Vol 61, No 6 : November/December| a5062 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v61i6.5062 | © 2019 Gary Gabriels, Mohamed Irhuma | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 December 2019 | Published: 09 December 2019

About the author(s)

Gary Gabriels, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Mohamed Irhuma, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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Dietary supplements have been manufactured and supplied to the market with the objective of enhancing the overall health of the general population and optimising the performance of athletes. The perceived intention of dietary supplementation is to increase the nutritional content of a normal diet, and to fill a dietary need and/or presumed deficiency. The usage and popularity of dietary supplements, however, raises concerns from a health benefit and risk perspective. Moreover, safety and efficacy of these supplements have generally not been established by the Medicines Regulatory Authorities, both nationally and internationally. The exponential increase in supplement sales can, however, be attributed to aggressive marketing by manufacturers, rather than the development of more effective nutritional supplements. These supplements may contain adulterated substances that may potentially have harmful short- and long-term health consequences for the patient. In addition, a large spectrum of drug interactions may render the use of such supplements risky, without proper medical and scientific assessment.


communication; curriculum; life-style; physician–patient relationship


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