Americans spend billions of dollars on supplements in order to stay healthy and avoid prescription drugs – but are they safe? 

Consumer Reports has identified a list of ingredients it says are dangerous.

 The ‘Dirty Dozen’ ingredients, according to the magazine, include:

–          Yohimbe, used for erectile dysfunction

–          Chaparral, used for weight loss

–          Bitter orange, used for weight loss

–          Comfrey

–          Coltsfoot

 Dr. Steven Marcus of New Jersey Poison Control, says be careful what you buy, and know what’s in your supplement.

 “Many of them have intrinsic dangers,” said Dr. Marcus. “They can cause kidney damage and liver failure…I took care of a gentleman who took more yohimbe than he should have, and ended up the hospital and nearly died.”

 Tom Donnelly has owned a natural food store in New Jersey for 32 years. He prefers herbs over prescription drugs and takes colloidal silver for Lyme disease. The ingredient is also on the ‘dirty dozen’ list.

 “It helped me,” Donnelly said. “I took it responsibly.”

Doctors say because herbs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, some natural products can also be contaminated with toxins like lead and mercury.

Always look for the USP verified mark when picking up the supplements.

“As a consumer, educate yourself,” said Taleana Hurst of Plainfield. “Go online, do research before you take anything.”

The bottom line, says Consumer Reports, is to beware of dietary and body building supplements and to lose weight through diet and exercise.

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