The vitamin intake of the Turkish public has increased, while even gas stations selling supplements and that is a concern, experts have warned.
According to a piece by Hürriyet daily’s Meltem Özgenç, the demand for vitamins has increased amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with people hoping to strengthen their immune system against the disease.
According to the article, excessive use of vitamins can be harmful and even lethal, experts have warned, underlining that every person’s metabolism has different needs and physicians should be consulted before consuming any sort of vitamin or supplement.
“Our country has become a junkyard of supplementary nutrition, vitamins and minerals. Everybody’s needs are different,” the head of the Turkish Employer Pharmacists Union (TEIS) Nurten Saydan said, warning that medicines, supplements and vitamins should only be bought from pharmacies and used under doctor supervision.
Saydan added that supplements are sold in an uncontrolled manner and people are encouraged to buy them via advertisements, saying that supplements are medicine too and should only be sold by pharmacies.
“Supplements in the form of medicine are sold without any sort of control and are advertised via markets and social media. On the other hand, our pharmacies provide free consulting for supplementary vitamins. No matter whether it’s chemical or plant-based, all medicines are within the realm of expertise of pharmacists,” she added, underlining that supplements are stored and sold in an orderly manner by pharmacies.
Saydan also previously said that some internet sites allow users to sell medicines unlawfully, which can result in "irreversible" health problems for buyers.
"There is nothing such as ‘secondhand medicine;’ drugs are particularly important products. Selling drugs in such a way has deadly consequences," she said, adding: "Unfortunately, internet sales cannot be prevented."
Saydan noted that drugs are being sold unregulated on online platforms that often sell other products such as clothes, shoes, furniture and food.
“This is harmful in any case, and we even do not know with what they fill the bottles (of medicine),” she said.
Saydan said the law states that all medicines licensed by the Health Ministry should be bought from pharmacies.
Selling the medicines online "is an overt crime," she said. "Medicine is not something you wear; it is a personalized product. After treatment is over, medicine turns into chemical waste."
On the other hand, cardiologist professor Melih Us has also warned of possible health consequences with regard to the uncontrolled use of supplements.
“Vitamin supplements are not officially classified as medicines, so most of them are uncontrolled substances. Excessive use of some of them may lead to health issues,” he said.
“For example, vitamin D is measurable, but it can be toxic if used excessively. During the coronavirus pandemic, everybody has been advised to take vitamin D, but we should take a look at the levels first,” he said, adding that the ratio should be between 50 and 60; and it may be toxic if exceeding 90.