What’s in your supplements? And are you telling the person who needs to know the most?

A warning from doctors: adding vitamins and supplements, such as Biotin, melatonin, collagen and evening primrose to your routine without telling your medical provider, can unintentionally cause problems, a News Center 7 special report revealed.

“You do have to be cautious as a consumer because these products are not as tightly controlled as FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs,” University of Pittsburgh Assistant Professor of Medicine and Clinical & Translational Research, Dr. Holly Thomas said.

“The quality control may not be as strong,” Dr. Thomas added. “Often we don’t have the same sort of detailed information about these supplements that we do about pharmaceutical drugs because pharmaceutical drugs have to go through a process to prove to the FDA that; they do what they say they do. They actually work, and they’re actually safe, and the side effects are tolerable. Often pharmaceutical drugs also have to show that they don’t interact with other medications which supplements don’t always have to do.”

Dr. Thomas referenced two collagen and melatonin reports: a 2017 Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine study showed 75% of melatonin supplements did not have the amount claimed on the bottle.

Another study, completed in 2020 by the non-profit “The Clean Label Project,” looked at heavy metals found in Amazon’s Best Sellers List of collagen products.

“This other study I found that that really got my attention was they took several common collagen supplements, and they found that about a third of them were contaminated with lead,” said Thomas.

She suggests people concerned about what’s in the product they are taking to check out certified USP products.

“There is a group called the USP or the United States Pharmacopoeia that does work to certify certain supplements,” Thomas said. “So they will actually do the testing to ensure that what it says on the bottle is actually what’s in there. Some supplements will come with a USP seal of approval, but only about a small fraction, like 1 percent of supplements have actually gained that USP approval.”

All supplement products come with a warning on their bottles stating they are not FDA approved. Like other drugs. Dr. Thomas says they can cause interactions with medicines.

“One thing to keep in mind about biotin, in particular, is that it can interfere with some types of blood tests, particularly thyroid testing,” Dr. Thomas said.. “St. John’s wort, which some people take for depression and anxiety symptoms or stress. That one we actually know can interact with birth control, so it just reminds us how important it is to let your doctor know about any and all medications and supplements that you’re taking.”

At a Centerville park, WHIO’s James Brown caught up with friends Martha Jackson and Janice Fidishun while they were out exercising.

“I take what’s called vital proteins. It’s like a powder I put in coffee or you can put in any drink.” Fidishun added, “I did not talk with my doctor, but so far so good. I’ve been on it about five months.”

“I take Gluclosimine for joint health,” Jackson said. “I have a lot of knee pain so that along with prescription medication I’m on lets me go pain free. And I play a lot of tennis.”

In Bellbrook, the Blueberry Café's Tony Darden is also known as The Muffin Man.

“I’m older dude now and need that little boost,” Darden said.”

After getting very sick and winding up in the hospital in 2020, he says he now follows his doctor’s orders.

“I take vitamins, stay healthy,” Darden said. “Doctor recommended I go to health food store get multi vitamins after COVID-19.”

Darden says he follows his daily vitamin and supplement as closely as his secret blueberry muffin recipe. Doctors say that is key. People have to make sure they check with their doctors first, and then only take the recommended daily dosage.

No matter what you take, Dr. Thomas said to make sure you are taking the recommended dosage and talking to your doctor about any supplements you’re taking.