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Dietary supplements

Dietary supplements

Understanding Dietary supplements Suppldments Food and Drug Administration - PDF. Medicine companies follow FDA regulations. About Advertise Contact. Sports Supplements Nemours Foundation Also in Spanish.

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Dietary supplements -

It's an important effort, but the results don't always hold up. So the next step is to conduct randomized clinical trials, in which volunteers are assigned by lot to take either the supplement or an identical-looking placebo "dummy pill" while researchers track their health.

In the best studies, neither the volunteers nor the researchers know who is getting the real thing until the code is broken at the end of the trial. Everyone wants to know if supplements can help.

It's a good question. Here's where we stand today — but you should keep an eye out for new results, since recommendations will change as scientific studies trickle in. Unfortunately, in most cases, the studies have failed to confirm our hopes, though there are exceptions.

Many people take supplements in the belief that they will preserve health or ward off illness; many others use supplements in an attempt to treat specific conditions that have already developed.

We'll have a look at popular supplements in both categories, starting with preventive supplements used principally by healthy people. Vitamin D. To get vitamin D the old-fashioned way, by producing it in the skin, we need lots of sunshine.

But as work has shifted from the farm to the office and as we've learned to use sunscreens to reduce the risk of skin cancer and wrinkles, many people lack sufficient amounts of the "sunshine vitamin.

Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium from the intestines; that's why vitamin D is so important for healthy bones. Current guidelines call for IU international units a day below age 71 and IU a day thereafter.

But many experts recommend to 1, IU a day for most adults; daily doses up to 4, IU are considered safe, but more can be toxic. It's very hard to get the vitamin D you need from your diet; oily fish and fortified dairy products are the only important sources.

So supplements do make good sense for most adults. The form known as vitamin D 3 is usually recommended, but D 2 is also effective; for best results, take your vitamin D along with a meal that has some fat. If you want to be sure you need this supplement, ask for a blood test; levels of at least 30 nanograms per milliliter are considered best.

Vitamin E, vitamin A, beta carotene, and vitamin C were the favorites of the s and early '90s. But many careful randomized clinical trials have not shown any benefit against heart disease, cancer, or other illnesses.

And that's not the worst of it. In fact, even moderately high doses of vitamin A increase the risk of hip fractures, and high levels of vitamin A have been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer; beta carotene increases lung cancer risk in smokers; and vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer and has been linked to an increase in respiratory infections, heart failure, and the overall death rate.

Do not take antioxidant supplements. One exception: people with moderate or advanced age-related macular degeneration AMD benefit from special antioxidant supplements that also contain zinc.

Unfortunately, though, this preparation does nothing to prevent AMD in people who have healthy eyes. Vitamin B 12 is found only in animal-based foods, so strict vegetarians may need supplements.

In addition, many older people don't make enough of the stomach acid that's needed to liberate B 12 from animal products so it can be absorbed. But B 12 is also added to fortified grain products and other foods, and this synthetic B 12 is easy to absorb even without stomach acid.

That means a single bowl of cereal can provide your RDA of 2. Still, if your fortified grain consumption is erratic, a B 12 supplement is reasonable.

Folate is more complex. The vitamin is essential for the production of red blood cells, and it has an important role in DNA production and in repairing defects in the genetic code. Although folate is present in a variety of leafy green vegetables, fruits, legumes, and meats, until the late s, many Americans didn't get their RDA of mcg from foods — and folate deficiencies during pregnancy sharply increase the risk of devastating birth defects.

That's why the U. and Canadian governments issued regulations mandating folic acid fortification of all grain products including cereal, bread, flour, pasta, and rice from onward. Folate fortification has eased the birth defect problem, but obstetricians still recommend supplements for women who are trying to conceive or who are already pregnant.

Despite their iconic status, there is no evidence that multivitamins enhance health and well-being or prevent illness. Without disputing these conclusions, many doctors have continued recommending and taking multivitamins.

One rationale is that they are a convenient and inexpensive way to get vitamin D — but most preparations provide just IU, much less than the to 1, IU currently in favor.

They may report your experience to FDA. You may also submit a report directly to FDA by calling FDA or completing an online form.

You should also report your reaction to the manufacturer by using the contact information on the product label. FDA has established Good Manufacturing Practices GMPs that companies must follow to help ensure the identity, purity, strength, and composition of their dietary supplements.

These GMPs can prevent adding the wrong ingredient or too much or too little of the correct ingredient and reduce the chance of contamination or improper packaging and labeling of a product.

FDA periodically inspects facilities that manufacture supplements. Several independent organizations offer quality testing and allow products that pass these tests to display a seal of quality assurance that indicates the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

These seals do not guarantee that a product is safe or effective. They can help you determine which supplements, if any, might be valuable for you. Keep a complete record of any dietary supplements and medicines you take. The Office of Dietary Supplements website has a useful form, My Dietary Supplement and Medicine Record , that you can print and fill out at home.

For each product, note the name, the dose you take, how often you take it, and the reason for use. Dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet. They are not medicines and are not intended to treat, diagnose , mitigate , prevent, or cure diseases.

FDA is the federal agency that oversees both supplements and medicines, but FDA regulations for dietary supplements are different from those for prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

Medicines must be approved by FDA before they can be sold or marketed. Supplements do not require this approval. Supplement companies are responsible for having evidence that their products are safe, and the label claims are truthful and not misleading.

However, as long as the product does not contain a new dietary ingredient one introduced since October 15, , the company does not have to provide this safety evidence to FDA before the product is marketed.

Dietary supplement labels may include certain types of health-related claims. Manufacturers are permitted to say, for example, that a supplement promotes health or supports a body part or function like heart health or the immune system.

This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Manufacturers must follow GMPs to ensure the identity, purity, strength, and composition of their products. If FDA finds a dietary supplement to be unsafe, it may remove the product from the marketplace or ask the manufacturer to voluntarily recall the product.

FDA monitors the marketplace for potential illegal products that may be unsafe or make false or misleading claims. The Federal Trade Commission , which monitors product advertising, also requires information about a supplement product to be truthful and not misleading.

The federal government can take legal action against companies and websites that sell dietary supplements when the companies make false or deceptive statements about their products, if they promote them as treatments or cures for diseases, or if their products are unsafe.

National Institutes of Health NIH supports research and provides educational materials on dietary supplements. FDA issues rules and regulations and oversees dietary supplement labeling, marketing, and safety. Recall notices are also posted on the FDA webpage or you can subscribe to receive FDA notices of recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts.

FTC regulates health and safety claims made in advertising for dietary supplements. USDA provides information on a variety of food and nutrition topics.

HHS provides wellness information, personal health tools, and health news. This fact sheet by the National Institutes of Health NIH Office of Dietary Supplements ODS provides information that should not take the place of medical advice.

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