Nutrition Supplements - Credible News or Gossip?

It looks like a good article. At least it asks you to think before going for wide-advertised products.

However, I am somewhat concerned about it. I want solid numbers in order to believe. And the link at the bottom fo the article is broken...

Well, I let you to decide for yourself

Do Dietary Supplements Measure Up?

( Americans spend over 21 billion dollars a year on dietary supplements, according to the Nutrition Business Journal. Does the research evidence show that our dollars are well spent? Let’s look at some of the studies investigating supplements and see what their results mean to you. (Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN, Food and Nutrition Columnist -

Yearly, the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health issues a Bibliography of Significant Advances in Dietary Supplement Research. The seventh annual bibliography recently reported on 25 studies culled from over 1,000 considered. This year many of the papers tested the efficacy of commercial supplements against their marketed claims.

Folic Acid and Hip Fracture: After suffering a stroke many people experience gait abnormalities. Weakness on one side and foot drop is common, increasing the risk of fall and possibly hip fracture. When researchers gave subjects 500 micrograms of folic acid and 1,500 micrograms of B12 daily, their risk of hip fracture went down. The study used a fairly large population, had a control group, and the investigators did not know until the study was completed (double-blind experiment) which subjects were taking the vitamins compared to those who did not. Bottom line: strong conclusions. What does it mean for you? Eating folate-fortified bread and cereals and more green leafy vegetables may be protective against future hip fracture. And, if you are over 50, taking a vitamin B12 supplement is probably a good idea.

Calcium + Vitamin D: We all know we should get enough calcium to prevent fractures as we age. But, did you know that vitamin D is also vital for strong bones? A meta-analysis was done to see if there was value in taking vitamin D along with calcium to prevent fractures in people over 60. Individuals who took 700 to 800 IUs of vitamin D plus 500 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily had reduced risk for hip fracture. A meta-analysis lumps together the results of many studies and re-examines them as if they were one big study. If the initial studies were strong, but small, this can strengthen results. What does this mean to you? If you are taking a calcium supplement choose one with vitamin D.

Another paper reviewed looked at how effective supplemental calcium and vitamin D were in reducing the risk of colon cancer. The conclusion: a very weak protective effect from the supplements. So stick with your calcium supplement for bone health and possibly you’ll receive a slight protective effect against colon cancer as well.

Vitamin E, Heart Disease and Cancer: Population studies have indicated that vitamin E may reduce the risk for heart disease and cancer. Many people take extra vitamin E daily hoping for this protection. Two papers in the bibliography examined this hypothesis. Both had large populations which they followed for many years making the results strong. Neither study found that vitamin E protected against cancer or heart disease. One study actually showed an increase in heart disease with supplemented vitamin E and the other showed a slight protective effect for women over 65. What does this mean to you? Taking supplemental vitamin E in hopes of reducing your risk for cancer or heart disease is probably not the best bet.

Ginseng and Colds: Everyone hopes to find a cure for the common cold. Ginseng has long been touted for its immune enhancing properties. Three hundred subjects were given 400 milligrams of ginseng daily during cold season. Compared to the placebo group, they reported fewer colds and fewer symptoms per cold. What does this mean to you? Taking a daily ginseng supplement during cold season might be helpful.

Chitosan and Weight Loss: Infomercials and late night TV are full of products that claim take 2 pills a day and the fat melts away. Many of these products contain chitosan, a supplement that traps fat in the digestive track so it cannot be absorbed. The study reported agreed with many studies before that chitosan does not promote weight loss. But, the study was not placebo controlled and the supplement used also contained psyllium (a type of fiber), malic acid, and aloe vera so it was hard to judge the effect of chitosan alone. What does this mean to you? Even though the study was not as carefully controlled as it should have been it did agree with past results. Fat busting pills are not all they are cracked up to be.

Copies of the Annual Bibliography of Significant Advances in Dietary Supplement Research 2005 are available from or from the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, 6100 Executive Blvd., Rm. 3B01, MSC 7517, Bethesda, MD 20892-7517.


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This page contains a single entry by ID Admin published on October 23, 2006 10:03 AM.

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