Buying health supplements: What to look out for

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Buying health supplements: What to look out for

What are some of the red flags to watch out for when purchasing health supplements?

Here’s what the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) recommends to help you determine if products are decent.

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Do not be fooled by supplements that promise “quick cures” or “easy solutions”.

Sometimes, health supplements take effect quickly because they contain potent, undeclared ingredients, which may cause serious health issues.

For example, several consumers experienced rapid heartbeat, dizziness and breathlessness after they consumed a product known as Clinic K, marketed to be of “safe medical grade” and the “No 1 clinical weight-loss formula in Korea”.

The HSA found that the product contained banned substance.

Some other health supplements sold online also contain potent ingredients, including steroids.

In a long-term perspective, unsupervised steroid use can result in a variety of health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure.


Be wary of dubious marketing claims that are not easily verified.

These include personal testimonies, sophisticated sounding scientific terms and statements such as “consumed safely by millions” or “100% natural ingredients”. For instance, one diet product was marketed as containing natural ingredients.

However, a teenager suffered hallucinations and was hospitalized after consuming it for more than three weeks.

It turned out that the product contained sibutramine, a substance that has been banned in Singapore since 2010.


Always buy from a reputable store, pharmacy or company. If it’s sold freely by distributors, do find out where they obtained the source of the products.

The HSA does not approve or license health supplements to see if they are effective before they are approved to be sold on the market.

Advertisements for these health products also do not have to be endorsed by the authority.

What the HSA typically does is to inspect products already on the market. It also relies on doctors’ reports of negative side effects from health supplements before it initiates product recalls.

If these tips are useful, please share it to your loved ones, colleagues and friends. Thanks again for reading!

Sabrina Tan
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