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Supplements are Unregulated and Unsafe – No

Unfortunately, supplements are simply not safe. While there are reputable supplement manufacturers in the world, and many people are loyal to specific brands of supplement manufacturers, one just never knows what they will be taking when they crack open a natural remedy such as melatonin. There are precisely zero regulatory agencies in the United States to oversee the development and manufacture of herbal and dietary supplements, and therefore consumers are only able to rely on the honesty and ethics of the companies who put these products on store shelves.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the regulatory agency that oversees all aspects of prescription and over-the-counter medications sold in the US, and is responsible for ensuring drugs are manufactured safely. Additionally, the FDA is entrusted with ensuring drugs are tested and developed adequately so all side effects are studied and well-documented, not just with the active pharmaceutical ingredient, but any inactive ingredients, or excipients, that make up the bulk of tablets, capsules, or other forms in which the drugs are sold. Every last particle in a bottle of aspirin can be identified by its components, safety, and supplier from where it was purchased, right down to the plastic bottle and the cotton cushion used to protect the pills.
However, in the case of supplements such as melatonin, there are no laws or protective agencies charged with ensuring the safety and efficacy of the products. The bottle may be labeled melatonin at a certain dosage, but the supplements may not contain a speck of melatonin, or may contain only a fraction of what the label indicates. Further, lack of regulation means lack of safety testing for the active and inactive ingredients in the supplements, the packaging materials used, or even for accurately determining the proper dosage. Manufacturers of supplements are under no obligation to use quality ingredients, conduct safety or efficacy testing, or even to sell the product indicated on the label. With only their own profits to which to answer, even the most reputable companies are still under no expectation of accountability for the safety and accuracy of the supplements.
It is possible that something like melatonin is exceptionally beneficial to insomniacs. However, as long as herbal supplements are not regulated by an agency with only the public’s safety and best interests in mind, supplements are simply not safe enough to risk taking.