Monday, December 18, 2006

Dietary Supplements

I get asked this question an awful lot, from people who are suspicious about whether an herb or vitamin will exert its intended effects, usually, but occasionally from people who are ready to give camera-worthy testimonials:

Are supplements safe?

Well. I don't know.

While one could argue that the FDA doesn't necessarily keep us all safe regarding food and drugs, products passing through the agency do so on a 3-foot pedestal of paperwork citing scientific research detailing safety and efficacy (e.g. that the product does what it's supposed to do). BUT, the FDA doesn't regulate supplements. They only oversee them after they've hit the market, and pull them if they can prove that they're unsafe. The manufacturer must prove safety and efficacy, but that rule is really little more than a legal disclaimer by the FDA because no one oversees the manufacturer's claims. Here's the FDA link on supplements. Be sure to go to the bottom where they answer all the important questions about them.

My opinion: herbs are strong stuff, with real chemical effects (many beneficial), but not a lot has been proven scientifically. The importance here would be with the amount you should take and the amount in the bottle (is it the same as what the manufacturer claims?) . And since they have potent effects, how about their interactions with foods/each other?

Vitamins are strong stuff. They can be overdone, with deleterious results. When it doubt, look at the nutrition label. If there's 3,567% of the RDA, you're overdoing it, know what I mean?

Antioxidants are strong stuff. They can be pro-oxidants in large quantities. What is a large quantity? Dunno. There's no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for them. I would not take an antioxidant supplement, and that includes high doses of vitamin C. Eat your vegetables and a busload of fruits too -- you couldn't eat enough of them to do yourself any harm (as far as pro-oxidation), and you'll get plenty of good antioxidants. Don't drink a gallon of juices -- too much sugar, too much everything. Think of how many fruits or vegetables it takes to make them and ask yourself if you could really eat all that whole.

Use the head your mother tried to fill up with common sense, now, y'hear?


Blogger Puppy 1000 said...

I'm sure sometimes supplements can have a negative effect, but mostly I think it makes sense to supplement our food that is inadequate in the things we need.

Herbal Supplements

1:17 PM  
Blogger Robin said...


The best vitamin supplement will provide you with the vitamins, nutrients, micronutrients and antioxidants that are necessary to slow down the aging process. Taking the best vitamin supplement will help your body get rid itself of free radicals so that the cells with work properly.

5:13 AM  

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