FDA: This Ingredient in Dietary Supplements May Cause Miscarriage

Stay away from this ingredient if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Jun 2019
fda warns against vinpocetine found in diet supplements as it may cause miscarriage

An ingredient found in dietary supplements is associated with miscarriage, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns in a news release. The announcement comes after data reviewed by the FDA, including a recent report by the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Toxicology Program (NYP), found that consumption of the ingredient, vinpocetine, is associated with adverse reproductive effects. As a result, the agency is warning “women of childbearing age” to stay away from supplements with vinpocetine.

“We’re advising pregnant women and women who could become pregnant not to take vinpocetine,” the statement says. “We are also advising firms marketing dietary supplements containing vinpocetine to evaluate their product labeling to ensure that it provides safety warnings against use by pregnant women and women who could become pregnant.”

Scientists who studied the effects of vinpocetine on pregnant animals concluded that it decreased fetal weight and increased the chances of a miscarriage. The blood levels of vinpocetine 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.

While in some countries vinpocetine is regulated as a prescription drug, that’s not the case in the US. When products like vinpocetine are sold as dietary supplements in the states, they haven’t been reviewed by the FDA under the safety and effectiveness standards that apply to drug products. Meaning, the FDA hasn’t reviewed each vinpocetine product, or its labeling, before it becomes available to consumers.

Vinpocetine may also be referred to on product labels as Vinca minor extract, lesser periwinkle extract or common periwinkle extract. Dietary supplements containing vinpocetine are usually marketed towards enhancing memory, focus or mental acuity; increased energy; and weight loss.

So what supplements are safe during pregnancy? Doctors advise taking prenatal vitamins daily. Get the lowdown on what’s in prenatals and why they’re so beneficial.

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