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Benefits, Safety, and Regulation of Supplements

December 2007 - Print | Index

We wish you the blessings of these holidays and the best of health in 2008!

We have excellent gift items available such as soaps, body care products, and supplements that enhance, beautify and rejuvenate. Here are a small listing of sale items for the season:

Jarrow

Source Naturals

NOW

Twin Lab

The Benefits of Supplements

Supplements work! Here is a study that makes allowances for many variables entitled Usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of long-term multiple dietary supplement users: a cross-sectional study (Nutr J. 2007 Oct 24;6(1):30):

Scientists conducted a study involving 278 long-term users of multiple dietary supplements, 176 users of a multivitamin/mineral supplement, and 602 non-users of supplements. At least half of the subjects in the multiple dietary supplements group consumed: a multivitamin/mineral, B-complex, vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin E, calcium with vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, lecithin, alfalfa, coenzyme Q10 with resveratrol, glucosamine, and an herbal immune supplement. The majority of women in this group also consumed gamma linolenic acid and a probiotic supplement. The majority of men consumed zinc, garlic, saw palmetto and a soy protein supplement.

After adjusting for a number of confounding factors, the researchers found that the users of multiple dietary supplements had better biomarkers of health, as compared to individuals who did not take nutritional supplements or who consumed only a multivitamin/multimineral. The researchers determined that there were more favorable health outcomes in the subjects taking multiple dietary supplements. The multiple supplement users had an 11 percent risk of elevated homocysteine and overall lower concentrations of serum homocysteine compared to a 45 percent increased risk of elevated homocysteine in non-users and a 37 percent increased risk in single supplement users. Multiple supplement users also had lower levels of C-reactive protein and triglycerides and higher levels of HDL cholesterol. Other findings in the multi-supplement group included lower risks of elevated blood pressure, diabetes (73 percent less risk of diabetes compared to non-users), and a 52 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Subjects consuming multiple dietary supplements also reported having "good or excellent" health status 74 percent more often than non-supplement users.

Other findings of the study included the discovery of various nutrient deficiencies in both the non-supplement users and the multivitamin/multimineral users, including low levels of vitamin C. According to the researchers, these results suggest that the use of multiple nutritional supplements, such as those used by the subjects in this study, may confer various benefits to health. The authors conclude, "These findings should be confirmed by studying the dietary supplement usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of other groups of heavy users of dietary supplements."

The Safety of Supplements
In terms of safety, nutritional supplements, according to figures from American Association of Poison Control Centers, are extraordinarily safe. Over a five year period there was one death reported due to a large overdose of niacin causing liver damage. However, it was also found that the person was on six pharmaceuticals, two of which produce liver damage as a bad effect of the drug, and the person was known to save his medication for 10 days at a time and then consume it all at once. Why did the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) assign this death to niacin overdose? Dr Julian Whitaker concluded that "given the side effects of the drugs the patient was on, it is unlikely that the man's death was the result of niacin toxicity alone."

On the other hand, pharmaceutical drugs unfortunately are quite dangerous. That is why the US Congress wants them highly regulated. In 1998 the Journal of American Medical Association published a study that found in a single year "2,216,000 hospitalized patients had serious Adverse Drug Reactions and 106,000 had fatal Adverse Drug Reactions." These are based only on reported hospital cases. The study concluded that reactions to pharmaceutical drugs are "between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death."

So compare 1(one) death in five years (assigned to high dosage niacin) to 106,000 (one hundred six thousand) deaths in hospitals from pharmaceutical drugs in a single year. 106,000! It is surprising to me that there is not a march on Washington regarding this tragedy experienced by so many individuals and families.

Nutritional supplements are nutrients that can change the course of one's health and in some cases substitute for medical mainstream pharmaceutical protocols. However, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not like that. The FDA has stated clearly that their purpose is to protect the pharmaceutical industry from any outside competition - competition that can adversely affect the $7,773,689,578.34 sales of Lipitor, or the $5,137,342,648.03 sales of Nexium, or any other of the enormous sums spent on pharmaceuticals annually in excess of one trillion dollars a year.

Unfortunately, the US Congress placed dietary food supplements under the aegis of the FDA and not the Department of Agriculture where it truly belongs. Under the Department of Agriculture it would be appreciated and studied as dietary enhancement to the food we eat and still properly regulated. Instead we have the fox in the henhouse protecting the chickens!

The FDA and Supplement Regulations
The Food and Drug Administration has always had the power and authority to seize any dietary supplement that poses a health risk. It also can require dietary supplements to meet strict manufacturing requirements, including potency, cleanliness and stability. The FDA can obtain an injunction against the sale of any dietary supplement that presents false or unsubstantiated claims, and can charge any company selling a dietary supplement that is toxic or unsanitary with a criminal offense.

Supplement Industry Overview
The supplement industry was just beginning back in the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's. It was a very small industry often started in garages and small places where people whipped up herbal supplements or ran tableting machines or bottled extracts to save the lives of their dear ones and to promote health. It was alternative. Word got out and soon people wanted their garage manufactured products because they were beneficial, and the small businesses developed over the next forty years into national and international suppliers of nutritional supplements. These companies struggled to enhance quality and asked the FDA to help establish manufacturing standards for their products. Many companies moved ahead and developed their own standards that were even stricter than those finally set by the FDA this year. Why? Passion for health has been their motivation- to create health and to create a better product. Competition is wonderful. Of course it is not without its rogue fledgling companies that may misuse advertising with false claims which when reported and proven are heavily fined by the FDA and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).

Nowadays, most vitamin manufacturers are pharmaceutically licensed and represent a tremendous effort and commitment to quality and creating products that help maintain the health of the purchaser.

The dietary supplement industry has developed excellent responsible formulations. They have provided training regarding their products, and have developed a market that reaps the benefits from an industry committed to scientific research and information. The dietary supplement industry brings freedom of choice into the marketplace. It provides the individual with power over his or her own well-being by offering the public access to nutritional information and products that improve and maintain optimal health, in turn saving billions of dollars in health care costs.

Threats to the Supplement Industry
Meanwhile the media repeatedly publishes unsubstantiated attacks on the safety of nutritional supplements. Why are they beating a dead horse? This has become more and more prevalent as the advertising budget for pharmaceuticals in magazines, radio and television has become the biggest source of revenue for our advertising media. Is there a connection?

The international movement, spearheaded by the pharmaceutical industry in Germany in particular, wants to place nutritional supplements under prescription status, reduce choice and potency in the public market, and control competition. This will have a profound effect on the price of nutrients. It will result in reducing personal responsibility for one's own health, a dramatic increase in health care costs, and a tremendous increase in nutritional supplements prices.

Please educate yourself regarding these imminent changes by going to the website of the National Health Federation. It's a good organization to bookmark and join.

Best of Health,
Michael LeVesque, President
Vitamin Express

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products listed in this newsletter are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with your physician before taking any of these products.