The FDA has issued a warning that an ingredient in dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, energy and brain and memory function may cause a miscarriage or harm fetal development.
CNN reports that the ingredient is called vinpocetine, a synthetically produced compound that is sold on its own or combined with other ingredients and is often listed as "vinca minor extract," "lesser periwinkle extract" or "common periwinkle extract." It is usually marketed for increased cognitive performance, enhanced energy and rapid reduction of body fat.
According to a report from the National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health, this supplement may cause harm to pregnant women. Vinpocetine decreased fetal weight and increased the chances of a miscarriage in test animals. Blood levels measured in the pregnant animals were similar to those reported in people after taking a single dose of vinpocetine, indicating that pregnant women may experience adverse effects from vinpocetine similar to those seen in the pregnant animals. Toxicology tests also proved that in a significant number of products, the actual content of vinpocetine varied from what was stated on the label; this could result in higher doses than what is recommended.
#FDA is warning consumers about safety concerns with vinpocetine, an ingredient found in some dietary supplements. FDA data, along with a report issued by the National Toxicology Program (#NTP), found it can potentially cause a miscarriage or negatively impact fetal development. pic.twitter.com/Yc8vvHdmgB— Dr. Ned Sharpless (@FDACommissioner) June 3, 2019
According to Principal Deputy Commissioner Dr. Amy Abernethy and Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas, both of the FDA, these findings are alarming since products containing vinpocetine are widely available for use by women of childbearing age.
Along with a warning for pregnant women, the FDA is also advising manufacturers to evaluate their vinpocetine supplement labeling to make sure that it provides safety warnings against use by pregnant women and those of childbearing age.
More than half of all Americans take at least one dietary supplement on a regular basis, according to the agency. Earlier this year, the FDA announced new efforts to strengthen the regulation of dietary supplements. A new tool is now available - the Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List - to more quickly alert the public of unlawful ingredients. Consumers can consult this list before purchasing dietary supplements.