Info

*RDA = recommended dietary allowance.

*RDA = recommended dietary allowance.

Dietary Supplements— Proceed with Caution

Displayed prominently among the standard vitamin and mineral preparations in the pharmacy is a dizzying collection of products. Some seem to come straight from organisms, such as bee pollen or shark cartilage; others are more scientific-sounding, such as glucosamine with chondroitin. Still others have a mystical aura, such as St. John's Wort. These "nutritional supplements" are neither food nor drug, although they do contain active compounds that may function as pharmaceuticals in the human body.

The Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 amended earlier regulations in the United States, admittedly in response to consumer demand to have more control over dietary approaches to maintaining health. While the act loosens safety requirements for these products, it also calls for further research into how they work.

Past definitions of "dietary supplement" meant only essential nutrients — carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins or minerals. The 1994 act expanded the definition to:

"a product (other than tobacco) that is intended to supplement the diet that bears or contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients: a vitamin, a mineral, an herb or other botanical, an amino acid, a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total daily intake, or a concentrate, metabolite, con-

stituent, extract, or combinations of these ingredients."

Labels cannot claim that a dietary supplement diagnoses, prevents, mitigates, treats, or cures any specific disease. The language is very positive. For example, Valerian root "promotes restful sleep," St. John's Wort "may help enhance mood," echinacea and goldenseal "may help support the immune system," and "glucosamine with chon-droitin" improves skeletal function. Curative or preventative claims must be firmly backed up with evidence. Examples include the ability of folic acid to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects, and of calcium to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

The health-promoting way that dietary supplements are marketed does not alter the fact that they can contain pharmaceutical agents. A physician should be consulted before using these products, particularly if a person has a serious illness or is taking medication, because the active ingredients in sup plements may interact with other drugs. One patient, for example, took selenium supplements while also receiving chemotherapy to treat breast cancer, and experienced much greater hair loss and mood effects than she would have otherwise. Some patients have experienced intracranial hemorrhage after self-medicating with ginkgo biloba, a tree extract reported to enhance memory. And the hypericin in St. John's Wort interacts with many drugs, in ways that researchers do not yet fully understand.

Certain dietary supplements are of dubious value. For example, the marketing of shark cartilage followed initial studies that suggested that sharks do not get cancer. Since sharks have cartilaginous skeletons, the idea arose that their cartilage somehow protects against cancer. It turned out that sharks indeed get cancer, and shark cartilage has no magical properties. Similarly, anyone who understands the basics of cellular respiration realizes why supplements of pyruvic acid or ATP are not necessary to boost energy levels. Some health food stores sell DNA, which is merely very expensive brewer's yeast, and totally unnecessary, since any food consisting of cells is packed with DNA. The list is quite long of nutritional supplements with little scientific evidence of value. ■

Fats, Oils, Sweets

(Use sparingly)

Milk, Yogurt Cheese

■ Fat (naturally occurring and added) o Sugars (added)

These symbols show fat and added sugars in foods.

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, Nuts

Fats, Oils, Sweets

(Use sparingly)

Milk, Yogurt Cheese

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, Nuts

Vegetables

Fruit

Dibujos Aminoacidos Esenciales

■ Fat (naturally occurring and added) o Sugars (added)

These symbols show fat and added sugars in foods.

Bread, Cereal, , Rice, Pasta

The U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced the food pyramid in 1992. The chart is a guideline to healthy eating. In contrast to former food group plans, the pyramid gives an instant idea of which foods should make up the bulk of the diet—whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Vegetables

Fruit

Bread, Cereal, , Rice, Pasta

Losing Weight Without Starving

Losing Weight Without Starving

Tired of Trying To Loose Weight And It Never Works or You Have To Starve Yourself Well Here's A Weight Loss Plan That takes Care of Your Weight Problem And You Can Still Eat. In This Book, You’ll Learn How To Lose Weight And Not Feel Hungry! In An Easy Step-By-Step Process That Enables You To Feel Good About Loosing Weight As Well As Feeling Good Because Your Stomach Is Still Full.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment