Living healthy and loving it

Weight-loss…it appears to be at the top of every wish list. It seems everyone has a weight-loss wish of at least five pounds. Now more than ever money is being poured into the weight-loss world. Like a wishing well, people are throwing their money in and hoping their weight-loss wishes will come true. Unfortunately, the wishing well seems to be running dry. The fact is, now more than ever, Americans are more overweight, less active and seeking a magic pill that will change all of that.

Bottles of ephedrine, Metabolife and Hydroxycut are flying off store shelves and filling bathroom cabinets. With so many bottles to choose from, how can the magical one be found? In fact, some of these bottles’ contents may be poisonous.

Weight-loss in a pill: magic or a puff of smoke?

Regarding ephedra (ephedrine), the good news is it is finally being taken off shelves. Places like Smoothie King and Vitamin World are doing its customers a great service by taking this damaging and dangerous supplement off the shelves and out of most of their products. Of all the so-called magic pills on the market today, ephedra would have to be the most deceptive.

Ephedra is marketed as “a naturally occurring substance derived from the Chinese herb ma huang.” Being “natural” and “herbal” makes ephedra appear safe and pure. Among plants it is, but in humans ephedra is foreign and has extreme and dangerous effects on the body.

It deceptively claims to speed up metabolism, but the only thing this adrenaline-like stimulant speeds up is the heart. Taking ephedra puts you at serious risk for heart palpations, strokes, heart attacks, insomnia and death.

During the college years, heart problems should be the last thing on students’ minds. However, when taking ephedra or products containing ephedra, the door for heart complications is opened.

How about taking ephedra before a workout? Taking ephedra before a workout is one of the most dangerous things to do. Think about it: ephedra already increases heart rate, so hopping on a treadmill and the combination of stressors will send any heart into near failure every time. The heart works at its own pace–like clockwork. Trying to speed up a clock is only going to wear the batteries down.

As ephedra is slowly being exposed, many are reaching for the bottles that say ephedra-free, such as Metabolife and Hydroxycut. Naturally it seems like a safer choice. But the magical side to these pills isn’t the pills themselves, but the hocus-pocus labels. Manufactures of dietary supplements have complete and total freedom to print whatever claims they desire on their labels. Supplement companies can and will print whatever to get people to buy their products. However, research and testing on these products is scarce, leaving people uninformed about the possible problems.

Another loophole for dietary supplements is that they do not have to have Food and Drug Administration approval before going on the market. The responsibility is placed solely on the company to test their products before they sell them. The majority of these supplements on the market today have had minimal testing, so by purchasing them one is figuratively signing-up to be a guinea pig for the company.

Keep in perspective that products like ephedra, ephedra-free Metabolife, and ephedra-free Hydroxycut, directly alter the nervous system and heart. The recommended dosage of pills results in about 600 milligram of caffeine, by the end of the day or the equivalent of six shots of espresso. Gambling with a new haircut or fake tanner? Go for it. But gambling with a heart? It’s just not worth it.

Dayna Davidson is the group and fitness supervisor at the Campus Recreation Center and is a senior majoring in wellness andleadership with a minor in professional writing. She can be contacted for questions or comments at