Action 9: Federal officials warn of risks with dietary supplements

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Heading into flu season, many people are looking to boost their immune systems, but federal officials sent Action 9 a warning that may make you think twice before buying dietary supplements.

Marshall Linder and his wife get flu shots every year.

"Almost 50 years, yeah," said Linder.

But with three family members in the medical profession, they do not put much weight in supplements promising to prevent colds or the flu.

"To be honest with you, a lot of this stuff about boosting this and boosting that, I take with a grain of salt. I really do," said Linder.

And the Federal Trade Commission is also warning people to be cautious. The FTC points to two recent cases.

In one, the FTC said Walgreens sold Wal-born products promising to prevent illness and fight germs, but that the science did not back it up.

Now roughly 8,000 customers are getting back a total of $218,750.

In the other, the FTC said Iovate Health Sciences was selling supplements like ColdMD, GErmMD and AllergyMD, and that the research did not support their claims either.

Now 2,500 people are getting combined $182,573 back.

The North Carolina Consumers Council followed the Walgreens case carefully and said always look past the advertising, read disclaimers on the packaging carefully.

"If you have a product on a store shelf that has an asterisk behind a claim leading to a small print disclaimer saying this product has not been evaluated by the FDA, we generally tell consumers to steer clear of those," said Matthew Oliver with the NC Consumers Council.

He and the FTC said ask your doctor before taking any supplements.

Speaking of people in the medical profession, remember the Linders – he was a dentist and has two children who are doctors. He is sticking with just flu shots for now.