Food supplements: a thriving market, despite consumption sometimes dangerous for health

Food supplements: a thriving market, despite consumption sometimes dangerous for health

Hyaluronic acid capsules, marine iodine capsules, Brazilian ginseng powder, omega 3 and now collagen tablets… The galaxy of food supplements is as vast as the market is flourishing: 2.6 billion euros were sold in 2022, up 3% over one year, according to the latest report from the National Union of Food Supplements (Synadiet), published last April. And more than half of French people consume it, according to a survey commissioned from the Harris Interactive institute.

These products are “foodstuffs whose purpose is to supplement a normal diet and which constitute a concentrated source of nutrients or other substances having a nutritional or physiological effect”, defines the Ministry of Health. The promises displayed are enough to tempt more than one: digest better, sleep better, de-stress, lose weight… Fans buy them mainly in pharmacies (more than half of sales), but also many without intermediaries in supermarkets and on the Internet (more than a quarter of sales for these three categories).

Unlike medications, the full leaflet is optional

As harmless as their composition appears, these products are not always risk-free, especially if they are purchased online and without necessarily being traced, warns the Ministry of Health. The main one is to suffer toxic effects, especially in the event of overdose or overconsumption — without necessarily realizing it.

In last Junethe National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) also warned that the presence of certain medicinal plants, which could be dangerous, was not necessarily highlighted on the label .

Because unlike medicines, food supplements do not have to be sold with complete instructions. Consumers are encouraged to speak with their doctor and pharmacist to avoid any risk, especially if they have pathologies and are taking medication.

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