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February 28, 2007
Antioxidant supplements don't extend life span and some of them may be harmful
Dietary supplements have became a multibillion-dollar business that millions of Americans take regularly in an effort to slow the aging process and prevent disease. However, a recent large analysis which pooled data from 68 studies involving more than 232,000 people, found no evidence that taking beta carotene, Vitamin A or Vitamin E extends life span and, in fact, indicated that the supplements actually appear to increase the likelihood of dying by about 5 percent. Other researchers were cautious about concluding that the substances were dangerous but said the study added to the now large body of evidence indicating that the hoped-for health benefits have not materialized. Vitamin C and selenium appeared to have neither positive nor negative effects on longevity in this analysis. Also, these findings do not apply to antioxidants found naturally in fruits, vegetables and other foods.

Based on these results, the researchers warn consumers to be cautious about taking supplements containing the nutrients. The findings of this study are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

May 18, 2006
Report: Multivitamins are not regulated by the FDA and probably are not helpful for nonpregnant, healthy adults More than half of America's adults are thought to be taking vitamin supplements, spending $23 billion annually, in the hope of warding off chronic disease. A 13-member independent panel was recently convened by the National Institutes of Health to study this subject and made a report yesterday on their findings. The panel found no sufficient evidence that taking multivitamin supplements would help healthy adults. The panel added that there was no harm in taking vitamin supplements, however expressed concern that some people could be getting too much of certain nutrients. Despite the general pubic perception that mutivitamins are safe, the panel pointed out that too much of certain nutrients can be harmful and the combined effects of eating fortified foods while taking multivitamins can potentially lead to toxic levels.

These findings pertain to the generally healthy population and do not include pregnant women, children, or those with disease.

In conclusion the panel recommended:

  • Combined use of calcium and vitamin D supplementation for postmenopausal women to protect bone health.
  • Anti-oxidants and zinc should be considered for use by non-smoking adults with early-stage, age-related macular degeneration, an eye condition that can cause blindness.
  • Women of childbearing age should take daily folate to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

The researchers found no evidence to recommend beta carotene supplements, a form of vitamin A, for the general population, and strong evidence to caution smokers against taking them. Beta-carotene has been linked to an increase in lung cancer among smokers who took it regularly.

The panel also urged changes in the regulation of multivitamins and other dietary supplements by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Specifically, the panel recommended that Congress expand FDA's authority and resources to require manufacturers to disclose adverse events, to ensure quality production, and to facilitate consumer reporting of adverse events by including reporting information on dietary supplement labels.

March 2006
FDA issues warning about illegal steroid products sold as dietary supplements
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently warned several manufacturers and distributors of unapproved drugs, Anabolic Xtreme Superdrol and Methyl-1-P, to remove them from the market. The FDA is concerned that the use of these products, which are marketed as dietary supplements and promoted for building muscle and increasing strength, may cause serious long-term adverse health consequences in men, women, and children. These products claim to be anabolic and problems associated with anabolic steroids include: liver toxicity, testicular atrophy and male infertility, masculinization of women, breast enlargement in males, short stature in children, adverse effects on blood lipid levels, and a potential to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Consumers who have any of these products should stop taking them and return them to their place of purchase. FDA

--Written by N Thompson, ARNP, Last updated Feb 2007
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