Consumer TipsFebruary 5, 2009
Several studies found that vitamin C supplements do not prevent the common cold. Vitamin C supplementation, however, has been shown to cut the risk of catching a cold for those exposed to an extreme physical stress like running a marathon.
Vitamin C can halve cold risk during strain
February 28, 2009
Before buying special dietary supplements to enhance your health and energy level, take the extra step to make sure that the product is not another form of "snake oil." A web search on the product name along with the terms "scam" or "ripoff" can bring up interesting information.
Vitamin O marketers full of hot air
March 19, 2009
Large daily doses of vitamin C do not appear to prevent colds, but taking vitamin C supplements during a cold may slightly reduce the duration of cold symptoms.
Take steps against colds
April 21, 2009
A three-year study of women over 65 found that a daily supplement with 700 IU of vitamin D reduced the odds of falling by 46 percent in the more active women and by 65 percent in less-active women. Other studies report that good vitamin D status enhances lower-body strength and coordination.
Lower risk of falling with good nutrition
April 28, 2009
During pregnancy, even non-prescription medications, herbal products and essential oils have the potential to cause birth defects. Drugs and herbal supplements should be used only with the guidance of a physician or pharmacist.
Safe conception helps prevent birth defects
May 1, 2009
Vitamin K is beneficial for blood, bone, and cardiovascular health, but it is commonly left out of multi-vitamin supplements. Green vegetables are the main source of vitamin K in most people's diets.
Multivitamin takers may miss vitamin K
July 23, 2009
Knowing the basics of nutrition science helps to decrease a person's susceptibility to all the “snake oil” health hype that pervades the modern world.
Nutrition key to body’s long haul
November 9, 2009
Both regular exercise and adequate nutrition play essential roles in maintaining muscle. Consuming a whey protein supplement may help to improve skeletal muscle in older individuals.
Muscle is also important as a major protein reserve
November 11, 2009
As long as you consume a diet with lots of variety and adequate calories, then you should be getting an adequate amount of vitamin B6.
Though B6 is important, don't overdose
December 6, 2009
Are you tired of ads for fraudulent nutrition products? File complaints about questionable products online at the Federal Trade Commission website.
Law shields consumers from dodgy products
January 6, 2010
The Federal Trade Commission recommends being careful about ads for “free” dietary supplements - "just for the cost of shipping." You may receive a second “subscriber” shipment in a month and a bill on your credit card.
Diet ad scams easily reported to U.S. agency
February 4, 2010
Creatine supplementation has been studied mostly for enhancing muscle strength. Researchers also found that six weeks of creatine supplementation improved short-term memory in young adult vegetarians.
Creatine has wide range of benefits
February 5, 2010
Research involving over 11,000 people showed that regular use of vitamin C supplementation did not prevent the common cold, but it did reduce the severity of symptoms and the length of a cold.
Vitamin C can halve cold risk during strain
March 9, 2010
A balanced diet is the ideal way to meet nutrient needs. However, people who limit specific food groups or have very low calorie needs can benefit from taking a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement.
Optimal nutrition for optimal health
April 1, 2010
Many herbal products are marketed to athletes with promises to boost performance despite very limited research to support these claims. The first step to quality performance is a balanced diet that meets essential nutrient needs.
Herbs and Athletes
April 2, 2010
Calcium-fortified foods make getting your daily calcium relatively simple. Because excess calcium can decrease the absorption of other essential minerals like iron and zinc, it might be prudent to consume only 1 calcium fortified food a day.
How much is too much calcium?
April 30, 2010
Food labeling regulations change slowly despite growth in nutrition knowledge. Currently, when a food or dietary supplement label indicates 100% of the "Daily Value" for vitamin A, it actually contains just over 200% of the currently recommended intake for a woman.
Too much vitamin A can be toxic
June 6, 2010
Sublingual vitamin B-12 pills designed to dissolve under the tongue are not more effective than pills that are swallowed, according to current research. However, the sublingual pills can be a good option for those who have difficulty swallowing pills.
Vitamin delivery doesn't change absorption rates
July 18, 2010
Research shows that regular use of high vitamin C supplementation does not prevent the common cold. However, in people who are exposed to an extreme physical stress like running a marathon, vitamin C supplementation can cut the risk of catching a cold in half.
Vitamin C can halve cold risk during strain
July 19, 2010
Unfortunately, some non-prescription medications, herbal products, and essential oils can cause birth defects. Consequently, no drugs or herbs should be used without the guidance of a physician or pharmacist - especially during pregnancy.
Safe conception helps prevent birth defects
July 24, 2010
Zinc nasal gels have been a popular cold remedy. Unfortunately, recent research indicates that their use can damage olfactory function and result in loss of the sense of smell.
Homeopathic Nasal Zinc Linked to Loss of Smell
August 9, 2010
A multivitamin/mineral type of dietary supplement can make sense when calorie intake is low. This often is the case for those who are cutting calories for weight loss and for older adults who have low levels of physical activity.
Is a multivitamin a smart idea?
August 14, 2010
If you are thinking that a nutritional product’s claims are “too good to be true,” try conducting an Internet search using the product’s name and terms like “scam” and “ripoff.” This can yield interesting and useful information.
Vitamin O marketers full of hot air
August 20, 2010
Unscrupulous sellers of nutritional products often use marketing techniques that prey on our basic fears and desires under the guise of having scientific evidence for their product. Too often the "evidence" is just contrived pseudoscience.
Pseudoscience formula helps sell bogus products
September 13, 2010
Taking high levels of dietary supplements may be beneficial in states of nutrient insufficiency, however consuming ample amounts of a wide variety of foods is a safer route to health.
Vitamin limits hard to set
September 17, 2010
The safe use of a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement depends on its nutrient formulation and your overall diet. Some dietary supplements may exceed safe levels for certain nutrients; if you also eat fortified foods, you may be at greater risk of exceeding safe limits for some nutrients.
Is a multivitamin a smart idea?
October 12, 2010
If you take a fish oil supplement, don't exceed the product's dosage directions. Some studies have reported that taking excessive amounts of fish oil on a regular basis could impair immune function and increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke due to a blood-thinning effect.
A diet of only good foods is impossible
November 2, 2010
Red yeast rice supplements are taken by many people to lower blood cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, chemical analysis of 12 commercial preparations showed that the amount of active compounds varied greatly with the highest product containing 35 times as much as the lowest. Possibly of greater concern, four products contained a liver toxin.
Red Yeast Rice Supplements Vary in Potency
November 3, 2010
Vitamins in dietary supplements degrade more rapidly in a moist environment like the bathroom medicine cabinet. Store unopened vitamin supplements in the refrigerator. When ready to use, let the bottle warm to room temperature before opening and then store in a dry place at room temperature when the bottle is being opened on a daily basis.
The Claim: Always Store Vitamins in the Medicine Cabinet
November 28, 2010
Supplementation with vitamin C does not generally decrease the risk of catching a cold. However, research does indicate that vitamin C supplementation can reduce the risk of colds for people exposed to extreme physical stresses like running a marathon.
Vitamin C can halve cold risk during strain
November 29, 2010
Most of the so-called energy drinks provide real energy (calories) in the form of sugar and perceived energy from the effects of caffeine on the brain.
January 15, 2011
If you take vitamin D supplements, select products with vitamin D3. This is important because Vitamin D2 is not as effectively utilized by the body.
Vitamin D3 ’87 percent more potent’ than D2: Study
February 15, 2011
Ads for weight loss supplements and powders are tempting if you need to lose weight. However, research is very limited to support weight loss supplement use. There is however research that supports moving more. Remember even just standing up burns twice the calories of lying on the couch.
Do weight loss supplements work? No, says researcher
February 16, 2011
A recent review reports that taking zinc syrups, lozenges or tablets within a day of the onset of cold symptoms can reduce the severity and length of illness. However, don’t confuse these oral products with the intranasal zinc products that FDA warned can cause loss of the sense of smell.
Zinc reduces the burden of the common cold
March 5, 2011
To supplement or not to supplement? The answer is not always simple. For example, research reports that vitamin E supplementation may decrease the risk of pneumonia if you exercise regularly and don’t smoke. But, if you smoke and don’t exercise vitamin E supplementation can increase your risk of pneumonia.
Vitamin E May Increase or Decrease the Risk of Pneumonia, Depending on Smoking and Exercise
April 9, 2011
Interesting new research found that some types of human gut microflora convert choline into a pro-atherosclerotic compound that increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in some people. Based on this, it seems best to avoid excessively high intake of supplemental choline.
Common Dietary Fat and Intestinal Microbes Linked to Heart Disease
April 21, 2011
A recent study on post-menopausal women found that the risk of heart attack was increased by about 20 percent in women taking calcium supplements with or without vitamin D. Additional research is needed to confirm these results and to find the right balance for maintaining both healthy bones and heart function.
Calcium Supplements Linked to Increased Heart Attack Risk in Post-Menopausal Women: Study
June 19, 2011
ConsumerLab.com recently compared the labeled amounts of nutrients in multivitamin and multimineral supplements to the chemically analyzed amounts. Among products designed for adults, children, and pets, more than 30 percent of the products had problems.
Many multivitamins don't have nutrients claimed in label
October 11, 2011
Today's drug tests for highly competitive athletes can detect even trace amounts of banned substances. Due to contamination with illegal drugs, some dietary supplements have caused athletes to have positive drug tests.
Dietary Supplements Could Make Athletes Unwitting Drugs Cheats
October 16, 2011
Herbal dietary supplements commonly contain natural chemicals that interact with drugs. Of special concern is the recent observation that 69 percent of the 100 most-used supplements interfere with the effectiveness of the blood thinner warfarin (coumadin).
Danger of Combining Warfarin With Herbal and Dietary Supplements Revealed
March 28, 2012
The cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is not known. However, a combined analysis of five large studies indicated that long-term vitamin E supplement use is associated with a reduced rate of ALS. Further study on the role of antioxidants in ALS may help to understand the cause of the condition.
New Data Supporting Vitamin E Supplementation
April 7, 2012
Two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, are especially beneficial for retinal health. They are found in many fruits and vegetables. Some dietary supplements provide these two compounds in the free form which makes them much better absorbed than they are from their natural sources.
Better Lutein Absorption with Free Lutein Source
April 8, 2012
According to a review of current research, providing vitamin and mineral supplementation to critically ill patients is frequently beneficial. The article does stress, however, that the type of critical illness must be considered before treating with supplementation.
Micronutrients Reduce Nutritional Risk in the Critically Ill
May 14, 2012
Some popular natural products can have powerful effects in the body. This makes them potentially very risky when they are taken with other medications. Also, discontinuing the use of these products well before most any type of surgery is absolutely essential.
Risks of Mixing Drugs and Herbal Supplements: What Doctors and Patients Need to Know
May 22, 2012
Many people take dietary supplements in hopes that the practice will reduce the risk of developing cancer. There is evidence that some supplements may be protective, however there is much to be learned about best dosages and why some specific nutrient supplements are associated with increased cancer risk.
High Doses of Certain Dietary Supplements Increase Cancer Risk
May 27, 2012
Soy isoflavone supplements have been promoted for potential cardiovascular benefits such as reducing blood pressure. However, daily supplementation with soy isoflavones over a 6-week period had no effect on blood pressure in menopausal women with high normal blood pressure.
Soy supplement shows no blood pressure benefit
June 12, 2012
The recommended intakes for many vitamins and minerals are similar for men and women. However, nonpregnant women require more than twice as much iron as men and during pregnancy, iron needs are about four times as much as a man's. Iodine, zinc, folic acid and vitamin B6 needs also significantly increase during pregnancy.
Nutritional needs of women differ markedly from men’s
June 15, 2012
Vitamin D is available as vitamin D2 and D3. Vitamin D3 is more efficiently converted to the vitamin's active forms in the body when large amounts of the vitamin are provided. However, there appears to be little difference between the forms when daily doses of each vitamin form are taken.
Vitamin D - Which Type Is Best?
June 16, 2012
Claims have been made that a common form of vitamin B12 called cyanocobalamin can be toxic at high doses because cyanide is released from the molecule. This concern is an urban myth that was disproved long ago. Cyanide is released from the vitamin, but the amount is about 1000 times less than the amount that would be toxic.
ConsumerLab.com Answers - Vitamin B12 toxicity
June 19, 2012
Study after study has confirmed that many people have low vitamin D status. Good vitamin D status is important to good health. However, every nutrient can become toxic if consumed at excessive levels for too long. A new study highlights that the risk of mortality increases at both low and high ends of vitamin D blood levels.
Vitamin D - How Much Is Too Much?
June 25, 2012
Although the best option is to meet nutrient needs with a balanced variety of wholesome foods, there are stages of life when the proper use of dietary supplements can be important for optimal health. However, excessive use of dietary supplements has the potential to damage health.
Supplements can aid diet, but be aware of their risks
July 18, 2012
Vitamin D supplements are available as D2 and D3. A meta-analysis indicated that supplementation with a single large dose of vitamin D3 was more effective than D2 at raising blood levels of activated vitamin D (25-OH-D). However, there was no obvious difference between the effects of the two forms when taken daily over time.
Health Benefits of Vitamin D Dependent On Type Taken
July 30, 2012
Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine, may benefit cardiovascular health as proposed by the "French Paradox" theory. A single supplemental dose over 100 times the typical amount in a glass of red wine was found to increase arterial blood flow measured in the forearm.
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Resveratrol
August 19, 2012
High tech chemical analysis of green tea dietary supplements indicated that these products are not a reliable way to obtain the beneficial compounds present in green tea. Although the researchers found some good green tea supplement products, most of the products had little of the key active components present, apparently because the compounds broke down during manufacturing and storage.
Green Tea: Sip it or Supp it?
August 23, 2012
With nutrition recommendations, a 'one size fits all' approach is not a good idea, especially when people are being treated for a specific health problem. A review of 12 prostate cancer clinical trials found problems with the common practice of taking calcium and vitamin D supplements. The supplements did not prevent bone loss as expected and appeared to increase the aggressiveness of the prostate cancer.
Study Questions Value of Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements
September 8, 2012
Creatine is one of the favorite supplements of body builders. Concerns about creatine's toxicity have been largely dispensed with by ongoing research. Although someone with impaired kidney function should likely avoid creatine supplements, there may be some positive applications of creatine supplementation for the elderly.
Creatine Side Effects and Other Fairy Stories
September 22, 2012
If you take a vitamin D supplement, you are likely to absorb more of the vitamin if you take it along with your largest meal of the day. This is likely because this meal is usually higher in fat which facilitates the absorption of fat soluble vitamins like vitamin D.
Take Vitamin D With Largest Meal
October 5, 2012
Anyone knowledgeable of the U.S. labeling laws for dietary supplements can easily find illegal labels on store shelves or product websites. A small government study of 127 dietary supplements marketed for weight loss or immune system support found that 20 percent of the products had prohibited disease claims on their labels.
Report: Some dietary supplements illegally labeled
November 4, 2012
Some alternative medicine practitioners promote the medicinal use of silver solutions for various purposes. These were used for antibiotic purposes prior to the discovery of antibiotics. However, silver is a heavy metal that can accumulate in the body and especially show up in the skin and make a person's skin blue in color. This change in skin color is apparently irreversible, somewhat like tattoo colors.
Drinking silver will turn you blue - and here's why
November 27, 2012
Vitamin D supplements are available in two forms, vitamin D2 and D3. A comparison of these two forms found that D3 was much better at maintaining healthy blood levels of vitamin D during a 25 week test.
To D3 or Not to D3, That is the Question: On the Bioequivalence of Vitamin D
January 17, 2013
One reason to consume colorful foods like fruits, vegetables, egg yolks, and salmon is to provide carotenoid pigments needed by the light-sensing retina in the eye. Dietary supplements that provide these carotenoids are a hot area of current research related to eye health, but much remains to be learned about proper dosage and safety.
Eye health formulations may require three-carotenoid combinations, says ‘important and novel’ data
February 6, 2013
Since excess vitamin C can be converted to oxalic acid in the body, it has been speculated that high dose supplementation with vitamin C could increase the risk of oxalate kidney stone formation. A recent Swedish study that followed over 48,000 men for 12 years found that those taking a vitamin C supplement at a dose of 1000 mg per day were about twice as likely to develop kidney stones.
Vitamin C supplements tied to men's kidney stones
February 12, 2013
Nutrient supplements may be beneficial to health when they help to maintain adequate intake of essential nutrients. However, excessive intake of nutrients has the potential to cause unintended health problems.
Dietary Supplements: Separating Adequate Nutrition from Pharmacologic Doses
March 14, 2013
Vitamin D supplements are available in two forms: D2 and D3. Most research indicates that the D3 form is more effective at improving vitamin D status. It is not known if there would be any value to supplementing with a combination of the two forms of vitamin D.
Vitamin D3 More Effective than D2 in Maintaining Optimal Status
April 25, 2013
All nutrients are potentially toxic at some dose, but the dosage that is potentially toxic varies greatly among the essential nutrients. A new review of vitamin E suggests that this nutrient has very low toxicity due to the way it is metabolized in the liver.
Excess Vitamin E Intake Not a Health Concern, Study Suggests
June 4, 2013
A small study of 17 people found that glucosamine supplements, commonly taken to manage or prevent joint problems, caused eye pressure to increase significantly. Although more study of this is needed, those known to have high eye pressure or established glaucoma most likely should not be taking glucosamine supplements.
Glucosamine Supplements Tied to Eye Risk
June 18, 2013
Adequate iodine intake is required for normal thyroid function and needs increase in women during preconception, pregnancy, and lactation. Generally, a normal multivitamin/mineral supplement containing 150 mcg iodine daily will meet these needs along with dietary intake. The American Thyroid Association advises against the daily ingestion of iodine and kelp supplements containing more than 500 micrograms of iodine.
Iodine Supplements May Be Too Much of a Good Thing
June 26, 2013
Looking for information about a dietary supplement? Now there is a one-stop-shop website produced by the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Any information that is on the product label of about 17,000 dietary supplement products is available in this new database that is designed to meet the needs of consumers and researchers as well.
NIH launches Dietary Supplement Label Database
July 19, 2013
DMAA, also known as 1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine or geranium extract, is an ingredient found illegally in some dietary supplements. It often is promoted as a “natural” stimulant. Ingestion of DMAA can elevate blood pressure and lead to cardiovascular problems ranging from shortness of breath and tightening in the chest to heart attack. FDA action led to a voluntary destruction of over 8 million dollars worth of the Jack3d and OxyElite Pro products that contained DMAA.
Supplements Called Risky Are Destroyed
July 28, 2013
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted warning letters to 15 companies that market unapproved supplements, creams and other so-called diabetes treatments. The products contain harmful ingredients or are otherwise unsafe. Some products even contain unlabeled diabetes drugs that require prescriptions.
Illegal diabetes products draw 15 FDA warnings
August 5, 2013
In the U.S. many people take strontium citrate supplements for the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis. Extensive European study of a similar strontium compound found it to be an effective treatment. However, based on recent evidence that strontium slightly increases the risk of heart attack, it is currently recommended that strontium not be used by people with any form of heart or blood vessel disease.
Supplements for bone loss have problems of their own
August 11, 2013
The Aristolochia genus includes over 500 species of plants, many of which have a history of use in traditional herbal medicine. Examples of common names for these plants include birthworts, mercury goosefoot, pipevines, pelican flower, rooster flower, smearwort, Virginia snakeroot, and Dutchman pipes. These herbs contain the powerful carcinogen aristolochic acid that is now known to cause urinary tract cancers. Although banned in most countries for use in herbal preparations, some of these herbs still show up in herbal products.
Scientists Use Genome Sequencing to Demonstrate Herbal Remedy Causes Upper Urinary Tract Cancers
October 23, 2013
According to a new study using DNA barcoding to identify herbal ingredients, when it comes to herbal products available in the U.S. and Canada, you have about a 50/50 chance of getting what is on the product label. About 60 percent of the products tested had labels that were incorrect and some products had none of the labeled herb in the product.
Analysis of Herbal Products Shows Contamination Is Common
November 1, 2013
Supplementation with three B vitamins (folate, B-6, and B-12) can help to reduce blood levels of a cardiovascular disease risk factor known as homocysteine. A new review of 14 studies found that supplementation with these vitamins reduced the statistical risk of having a stroke by about seven percent.
Can Vitamin B Supplements Help Stave Off Stroke?
November 4, 2013
During and after high intensity strength exercise, blood testosterone levels generally increase in men. A recent study found that two weeks of supplementation with soy protein isolate reduced this testosterone increase in comparison to the response following supplementation with whey protein isolate.
Effects of Soy, Whey Protein Supplementation Post-Exercise
November 11, 2013
Women often are recommended to take an iron supplement during pregnancy to meet increased iron demands. Some women experience negative gastrointestinal side-effects from daily iron supplementation. A study conducted in a rural VietNam setting found that taking the supplement twice weekly, instead of daily, provided similar benefits to both infant and mother.
Twice Weekly Iron Supplementation to Pregnant Women as Effective as a Daily Regime
December 18, 2013
The dietary supplement industry is big business and many people taking dietary supplements may not need them. However, it is difficult to conduct definitive studies with a shotgun approach to see if taking a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement for years will reduce health problems in people that may already be meeting their nutrient needs with an adequate diet. If someone's diet is deficient in a nutrient, taking an appropriate supplement can prevent or reverse serious health problems.
Medical journal: 'Case closed' against vitamin pills
January 2, 2014
If you are confused by reports on the value of vitamin supplements, you can blame flawed research designs according to a new study of past research on vitamin C. The authors point out many problems such as the failure to assess initial vitamin status of participants in supplementation studies.
Most Clinical Studies On Vitamins Flawed by Poor Methodology
February 3, 2014
An evaluation of dietary supplements sold for infants and children found that the levels of some vitamins were significantly greater than recommended levels. In products designed for 1 to 3 year old children, the average amounts of vitamin A and niacin exceed the tolerable upper intake levels set by the Institute of Medicine.
Kids' vitamins often surpass daily recommendations
February 14, 2014
A 2-gram supplement of the amino acid tyrosine was found to enhance reactions that help you to stop - like stopping a car. The popular articles about this study suggest eating spinach or eggs to get this effect. However, according to USDA food data, to get the amount of tyrosine used in the study, you would need to consume about 5 cups of cooked spinach or 8 eggs. Don't try this at home . . . or anywhere else.
Tyrosine helps you stop faster
February 20, 2014
A study of 42 people suffering from hives, a type of skin rash with red, itchy bumps, found that symptoms were significantly reduced by taking a vitamin D3 supplement of 4000 IU per day for 12 weeks. Those taking 600 IU per day had no improvement. Interestingly, there was no association between vitamin D blood levels and symptoms.
Vitamin D provides relief for those with chronic hives, study shows
February 25, 2014
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial provided a multivitamin supplement or placebo to 14,641 US male physicians 50 years of age or older. They were followed for an average of 11.2 years. In those taking the multivitamin, there was a modest and significant reduction in the risk of developing a cataract. The multivitamin consisted of Centrum Silver plus additional vitamins E and C.
Daily multivitamin use could reduce cataract risk for men
March 1, 2014
A large supplementation study on selenium and vitamin E concluded that selenium supplementation did not reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men with low selenium levels and it increased risk in those with high selenium levels. The study also found that vitamin E should not be taken in levels above recommended daily intakes.
Selenium, Vitamin E Show No Benefits, Only Risks, for Prostate Cancer
March 18, 2014
A 24-week study of glucosamine supplementation of people with mild to moderate pain in one or both knees found that there was no difference between the supplement and a placebo pill.
Glucosamine fails to prevent deterioration of knee cartilage, decrease pain
March 19, 2014
Daily supplementation of postmenopausal women for two years with 1000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D3 benefited blood lipid levels by increasing HDL cholesterol, lowering LDL cholesterol, and reducing triglycerides. The researchers concluded that these health benefits were primarily due to improved vitamin D status.
Calcium and vitamin D improve cholesterol in postmenopausal women
March 24, 2014
It has been proposed that vitamin E helps to prevent prostate cancer. Supplementation trials, however, have provided inconsistent evidence for this. A new study indicates that genetic variations can affect vitamin E handling in the body and vitamin E levels in the blood. Consequently, future studies should measure both vitamin E consumption and blood levels of the vitamin.
Prostate Cancer and Vitamin E – The Forgotten “Nutrient of Concern”
April 8, 2014
Mix equal parts fact and fiction and you have the simple recipe for profitable sales in the dietary supplement business. It can be challenging to sort out fact from fiction, so seek guidance from knowledgeable health professionals when you are looking for reliable sources of dietary supplements.
Telling safe supplements from snake oils
May 31, 2014
The fish oil omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA function in the body in ways that are expected to benefit cardiovascular health. Although this may be the case in general, taking fish oil supplements after the age of 50 did not show any significant benefit in a study of over 4000 people.
Supplements not associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in elderly
June 7, 2014
Step one in nutrition is meeting essential nutrient needs. Most nutritionists agree that the ideal way to accomplish this is by eating the amounts and types of foods that provide all of these nutrients in adequate amounts. Unfortunately, many people do not consume diets that are adequate to meet recommended amounts of several key nutrients. For these people, a nutritional supplement can be very important for long term health.
The value of vitamin, mineral supplements: the debate is far from over
June 27, 2014
A one-year study of older women found that taking 200 mg per day of supplemental calcium (with about 1000 mg/day from diet) resulted in excessively high blood calcium in about one out of ten women and excessive urinary calcium levels in almost one out of three. Since this increases a variety of health risks, especially kidney stones, the researchers suggested that women should have blood and urine calcium levels checked prior to and three months after starting calcium supplementation. The vitamin D the women were also taking did not appear to affect the calcium levels.
Some older women taking calcium and vitamin D supplements may need to reduce the dose
June 29, 2014
Drug induced liver injury also can be caused by some common herbal supplements. For example, green tea extract is known to cause liver injury when consumed in excess. To put this into perspective, the average cup of green tea has 50-150 mgs of the active catechin components, whereas some green tea extract pills contain over 700 mg. Taking this dose multiple times a day can be dangerous.
Liver dangers from herbal supplements, OTC and RX drugs, new guidelines warn
July 1, 2014
With all the vitamin and mineral fortified foods such as a wide variety of breakfast cereals for kids, children can have nutrient intakes from foods alone that exceed the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for several nutrients. Add one of the popular children's multivitamin/mineral supplements and the risk of nutrient toxicity can be quite high. Read labels to see how things add up and compare the totals to the established UL values.
American children consuming too many vitamins and minerals
July 6, 2014
An extensive review was conducted of medical records that included prescribing the herbal antidepressant drug St. John's Wort. It was found that in almost one out of three cases, patients also were taking drugs that have serious interactions with this herbal supplement. The researchers stress that this type of herbal product should provide precautionary drug interaction information in product packaging for use by both patients and physicians.
Common herbal supplement can cause dangerous interactions with prescription drugs
July 20, 2014
Vitamin E, Selenium and Prostate: A large double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that daily supplementation with selenium (200 micrograms) and/or vitamin E (400 IU) significantly increased the risk of developing prostate cancer. Men who had the highest vitamin E status at the beginning of the study were more likely to develop prostate cancer if they were taking the selenium supplement (in the form of selenomethionine).
Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT)
August 3, 2014
B Vitamins & Alzheimer Disease: A population-level study concluded that B vitamin supplementation to lower blood levels of a compound called homocysteine was not associated with a reduced risk of the cognitive decline typical of Alzheimer Disease. However, it should be kept in mind that the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are very similar to those observed in the development of Alzheimer disease. Thorough testing of vitamin B12 status is highly recommended in cases of cognitive decline.
Alzheimer's disease not prevented by B vitamins
August 8, 2014
High dose niacin supplementation has been used as a treatment for lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol and raising the "good" HDL cholesterol in people with cardiovascular disease. Recent research, however, indicated that niacin supplementation did not reduce heart attack or stroke rates compared with a placebo. Also, niacin had some serious side effects in some people such as liver problems, excess infections, excess bleeding, gout, loss of control of blood sugar for diabetics and the development of diabetes in people who didn't have it when the study began.
Niacin too dangerous for routine cholesterol therapy, experts say
August 13, 2014
Even nutrients can be toxic in excess. The Institute of Medicine has established upper limits for the intake of nutrients most likely to cause problems when consumed in excessive amounts for too long. For most nutrients it takes months or years of excessive intake for noticeable problems to manifest. Nutrients of most concern include vitamins A, B-6, and D as well as calcium, iron, zinc, selenium and copper.
Dietary supplements help fill gaps, but use caution
August 22, 2014
Magnesium: It has been estimated that over 75 percent of women older than 65 years consume significantly less than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium. A recent study of older women found that taking a 300 mg per day magnesium supplement significantly improved responses to a 12-week exercise program in comparison to women in the same program that did not take the supplement. Foods rich in magnesium include most fish, beans, most green vegetables, and nuts.
Magnesium supplements help physical performance in elderly women
August 30, 2014
Krill oil supplements often are marketed as being superior to fish oil for providing essential omega-3 fatty acids. A new study comparing these two marine oils found that there is no significant difference between the two oils in their effects on blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The main difference between the oils is that krill oil contains a colorful antioxidant called astaxanthin.
Fish-to-Krill isn’t exactly Apples-to-Apples
September 10, 2014
A study of people diagnosed with liver injury attributed about 20 percent of the cases to the use of a variety of herbal dietary supplements, especially the types marketed to bodybuilders. It is important to consider herbal products to be comparable to drugs and to use them with caution.
Liver injury caused by herbals, dietary supplements rises in study population
September 23, 2014
Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens of the eye and often develop in older individuals. Although oxidative damage may play a role in the development of cataracts, a five years study of over 11,000 men found that supplementation with the antioxidant nutrients vitamin E and selenium did not reduce the incidence of cataracts.
Vitamin E, selenium supplements unlikely to effect age-related cataracts in men
October 3, 2014
Turmeric and Brain Health: A rat study found that a specific compound isolated from turmeric promoted the proliferation of neural stem cells in parts of the brain. Consequently, this compound may prove to be helpful in the prevention of dementias like Alzheimer's disease. However, this does not suggest that taking turmeric or curcumin supplements is safe or beneficial due to other potentially toxic compounds in these spice components.
Promising drug candidate for Alzheimer's found in turmeric compound
October 10, 2014
Winter-related Dermatitis in Children: Some children have a tendency to develop eczema (atopic dermatitis) during winter months. A study conducted with children in Mongolia found that vitamin D supplementation significantly reduced this skin condition. Due to the limited sun exposure during winter months in Mongolia, the children likely had vitamin D deficiency during the winter season.
Vitamin D significantly improves symptoms of winter-related atopic dermatitis in children
October 30, 2014
Resveratrol and Bone Health: In just four months, middle-aged obese men who were taking high-dose resveratrol supplements (500 mg/day) had a significant increase in bone mineral density at the spine and elevated levels of a key biochemical marker of bone formation. Resveratrol is found naturally in red grapes and some types of nuts.
Resveratrol boosts spinal bone density in men with metabolic syndrome
November 8, 2014
Resveratrol Supplements and Exercise: Resveratrol supplementation (150 mg/day) of men during a 4-week period of low volume, high intensity interval training impaired some of the usual responses to exercise. Interestingly, this relatively high dose of resveratrol (roughly the amount in 300 6-ounce glasses of red wine) blunted the usual training-induced increase in the body's production of an antioxidant enzyme known as superoxide dismutase-2.
Resveratrol supplements 'may impair body's response to exercise'
November 28, 2014
Antioxidant Vitamins and Exercise: Exercise creates oxidative stress on muscles. However taking supplements of the antioxidant vitamins C and E does not help and instead prevents some of the desired muscle adaptations to strength training.
Why Antioxidants Don’t Belong in Your Workout
December 3, 2014
Bariatric Surgery and Vision: Bariatric surgery patients generally need to take vitamin and mineral supplements because of reduced food intake and impaired absorption of nutrients. Failure to take appropriate supplements could lead to vision problems among other potential health problems.
Warning to bariatric surgery patients: Take your supplements, for eye's sake
December 14, 2014
Vitamin C and Lung Function During Exercise: Vigorous exercise triggers an acute narrowing of the airways (exercise-induced bronchoconstriction) in about 10 percent of the general population, and in 90 percent of asthmatics. A review of recent studies indicates that taking 500 to 2000 milligrams of vitamin C prior to exercise significantly reduces bronchoconstriction and related symptoms.
Vitamin C may help people who suffer from airway obstruction or respiratory symptoms after exercise.
December 21, 2014
Vitamin E and Pneumonia: Vitamin E supplementation of older mice, with a dose comparable to 200 IU in a human, significantly enhanced immune function and resistance to bacterial pneumonia infection in comparison to mice consuming a normal amount of vitamin E. It will be interesting to see if vitamin E supplementation provides similar benefit to older humans.
Extra vitamin E protected older mice from getting common type of pneumonia
December 29, 2014
Vitamin C and Colds: An updated review of vitamin C supplementation found that taking vitamin C does not reduce the risk of catching a cold. However, there is some evidence that vitamin C supplementation may reduce the duration and severity of a cold.
Can High Dose Vitamin C Keep a Cold at Bay? These Skeptics Say No
December 30, 2014
Fat and Vitamin D Absorption: Vitamin D is one of the fat soluble vitamins that are absorbed better when consumed with a meal containing fats or oils. A new study found that blood levels of vitamin D were 32 percent greater when a vitamin D supplement was taken with a fat-containing breakfast compared to a fat-free breakfast.
Ask Well: Eating Fat to Boost Vitamin D and Calcium
January 13, 2015
Vitamin Supplements and Stomach Cancer: A large meta-analysis type of study found that moderate dose supplementation with nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E was associated with a reduced risk of developing stomach cancer. However, supplementation with higher doses, such as those exceeding the tolerable upper intake levels, was associated with an increased risk.
Can Vitamins Help Prevent Gastric Cancer?
January 16, 2015
Iron Supplementation and Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Iron supplementation has been observed to sometimes worsen infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. A study conducted with 926 iron deficient South African children (8 to 10 years old), found that iron supplementation with 50 milligrams of iron per day improved iron status and did not increase illness in children if they also took a supplement of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA (the type found in fish oils).
Omega-3 and Iron: Important Partners for Fighting Iron Deficiency
February 21, 2015
Multivitamin-Multimineral Supplements: Many Americans take multivitamin-multimineral supplements. A new study found that women who took this type of supplement for three or more years were significantly less likely to die of cardiovascular disease
Long-term Use of Multivitamin-Multimineral Supplements Linked to Heart Health in Women
March 24, 2015
Safe Vitamin D Levels: There has been an abundance of research linking low vitamin D status to a variety of health issues. Recent research evaluating over 247,000 Danes now points to health issues with too much vitamin D as well. A safe range for vitamin D blood levels is currently thought to be between 50 and 100 nmol per litre. The authors recommended the goal for vitamin D should be 70 nmol per litre based on their data.
High levels of vitamin D is suspected of increasing mortality rates
April 14, 2015
Muscle-building Supplements and Cancer: Athletes are especially open to trying anything that promises to enhance performance. However, a new study raises some cautions about links between muscle-building supplement use and testicular cancer. The risk appears to be greater in those who took these types of supplements when they were younger. Much more needs to be learned about what components of these supplements may triggering this cancer risk.
Testicular cancer link found for muscle-building supplements
April 16, 2015
Supplement Quality: Responsibility for the control of the quantity and quality of ingredients in dietary supplements rests primarily on the manufacturers of these products. Consequently, the "buyer beware" aspect of shopping for supplements is a significant concern. Larger companies generally have tighter quality control measures. Some organizations like ConsumerLab.com test products independently to confirm that products contain what they say and are free of common contaminants.
Do All Vitamin Supplements Have the Same Quality?
April 30, 2015
Illegal Stimulant in Supplements: Ever since the herbal stimulant ephedra was banned in 2004, the supplement industry has been seeking a reasonable substitute. One of the latest tries is the addition of DMBA (1,3-Dimethylbutylamine). However, FDA considers DMBA to be an untested drug, which makes it illegal in a dietary supplement.
FDA warns about another illegal stimulant in supplements
May 16, 2015
An elevated blood level of homocysteine is considered to be a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. Taking a daily multi-vitamin with vitamins B6, B12, and folate can help to reduce homocysteine.
Take heart care in hand for good life
June 19, 2015
Dietary Supplements and Cancer: Various studies have linked dietary supplement use with both increased and decreased risk of developing various cancers. Possibly part of the reason for this discrepancy is that people who develop a health problem such as cancer often start taking supplements to improve their health. To minimize health risks, take dietary supplements in moderation and always consult your pharmacist about possible interactions with other medications you are tkaing.
Study of Dietary Changes After Cancer Diagnosis Highlights Pitfall of Epidemiological Research
June 23, 2015
Vitamin D and Crohn's Disease: Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal condition that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. A small study of 27 Crohn's disease patients in remission found that those taking 2000 IU of vitamin D per day were less likely to experience a return of signs of the condition than those taking a placebo supplement.
Vitamin D shows promise for treating Crohn's disease.
July 8, 2015
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Muscle: Loss of muscle mass is common in older people. Adequate protein in the diet and regular exercise both help to counter this loss. In addition, a new study found that six months of daily supplementation with fish oil (providing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in a couple servings of salmon) increased thigh muscle slightly, along with the strength of various muscles, compared to a control group taking a placebo supplement.
Want Strong Muscles? Make Sure You're Getting Your Omega-3's!
August 4, 2015
Warning on Homeopathic Product: Homeopathic solutions called nosodes are ultradiluted solutions of diseased tissue, pus, blood, or excretions from a sick person or animal. Some homeopaths and naturopaths sell these products to their patients. Health Canada requires these products to include the statement that they are neither a vaccine nor an alternative to vaccination, have not been proven to prevent infection, and that Health Canada does not recommend its use.
Nosode homeopathic labels must read 'not vaccines or alternatives to vaccines:' Health Canada
August 17, 2015
Adulterated Supplements: Many dietary supplements, especially those from smaller companies, have been found to be spiked with a variety of drugs. This illegal practice frequently occurs without detection. However, scientists are working out a variety of new technologies to simplify the testing products for these contaminants.
Detecting hidden ingredients in dietary supplements
August 25, 2015
Milk Protein Component and Gut Health: A component of whey protein called glycomacropeptide (GMP) has been used in diet formulations for the nutritional management of phenylketonuria (PKU) - a genetic condition that requires low dietary levels of the essential amino acid phenylalanine. New research with a mouse model indicates that GMP has beneficial prebiotic effects that produce positive changes in the lower intestinal microbiota. Further study on GMP's potential benefits for a variety of human conditions may prove to be valuable.
Prebiotic dairy protein promotes digestive health, holds therapeutic promise
November 9, 2015
Iron Supplementation: Taking an iron supplement triggers a significant increase in a compound called hepcidin which greatly reduces the absorption of the next dose of iron - especially when the dose is high. Based on this, it appears that taking an iron supplement once every 48 hours may be more effective than once every 24 hours. Further research is needed to prove this.
Iron supplementation: When less is really more
November 25, 2015
Vitamin D and Winter: As sun exposure declines during winter months, the need for dietary and/or supplemental sources of vitamin D increases. Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk for cardiovascular disease along with other conditions such as metabolic syndrome and depression.
Using a Vitamin D Supplement During the Winter can Eliminate one Source of Worry
December 6, 2015
Rights Against Fraudulent Nutrition Products: Are you tired of ads for fraudulent nutrition products? File complaints about questionable products online at the Federal Trade Commission website.
Law shields consumers from dodgy products
January 29, 2016
Oxidized Omega-3 Supplements: The highly unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids in fish or plant oil supplements are highly susceptible to oxidation when products are not produced properly. Oxidation reduces the effective level of omega-3 fatty acids in a product and gives it a bad smell and taste. At this time, it is not clear if the oxidized fatty acids have a significant adverse effect on health.
Is Oxidized Fish Oil a Cause For Concern?
March 15, 2016
Nutritional Supplement for Hearing Loss: Using a mouse model to study a type of hearing loss seen in children with a specific genetic mutation, researchers found that supplementation with beta carotene (precursor to vitamin A), vitamins C and E and magnesium helped to slow progression of their hereditary deafness. However, the same supplements given to mice with a slightly different mutation made the condition worse.
Can nutritional supplements impact genetic hearing loss in children?
March 31, 2016
Multivitamin Supplements and Pregnancy: A study of 344 pregnant women found those who took multivitamin supplements prior to conception and during pregnancy had a substantially reduced risk of having a miscarriage. This was especially apparent in women over age 35.
Multivitamin Supplements Support Full-Term Pregnancies
April 19, 2016
Banned Substance in Supplements: Although not approved for use in dietary supplements, the drug oxilofrine was found in several "fat-burner" supplements. It was listed in the label ingredients as methylsynephrine, another name for the drug. Some may confuse this with a natural compound from bitter orange called synephrine that is a legal supplement ingredient. Oxilofrine stimulates heart function and increases blood pressure like its chemical cousin ephedrine.
Stimulant, Banned From Sports, Found in Dietary Supplements in U.S.
May 3, 2016
Supplements and Depression Treatment: A new study reviewed 40 studies on taking specific dietary supplements in conjunction with antidepressant medications. They found evidence that supplementation with SAMe, methylfolate (a form of folic acid), omega-3 fatty acids (specifically EPA or ethyl-EPA), and vitamin D all have the potential to enhance drug treatment of depression. One common nutrient deficiency known to contribute to depression, iron deficiency, was not considered in the study.
Nutrient supplements can give antidepressants a boost
June 10, 2016
Vitamin D and Gut Microbes: Most studies on intestinal microbial populations analyze the bacterial populations in the contents of the lower intestine (colon) or from the stool. A new study on the effects of vitamin D supplementation sampled contents of the intestinal tract form the stomach, small intestine, the colon, and the stool. They found that vitamin D supplementation changed and improved the bacterial composition only in the upper or small intestine.
High-dose vitamin D may boost diversity of the gut microbiome: Study
July 22, 2016
Antioxidant Supplements: Oxygen, of course, is required for life. However, some theories of disease suggest that various chemical reactions in the body involving oxygen create oxidative stress. It has been proposed that this oxidative stress may trigger certain diseases. Although taking antioxidant supplements may seem like the solution, these supplements may actually worsen some disease states by impairing beneficial oxidation reactions such as those involved in defense mechanisms of the immune system. Maintaining good health always seems to be a balancing act.
Beware of antioxidant supplements, warns scientific review
August 5, 2016
Fish Oil Supplement and Muscle Soreness: The first bout of a new exercise often causes muscle soreness that occurs a day or two after the exercise. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). A recent study found that women who took a fish oil supplement (containing a total of 3.6 g/d of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA plus DHA) experienced significantly less symptoms and biomarkers of DOMS. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cautions against consuming EPA and DHA in excess of 3g/d due to the risk of increased bleeding time. Consequently, long term use of this dose may not be safe.
Fish oil may reduce muscle soreness after exercising: Study
August 23, 2016
Calcium Supplements and Dementia: Adequate calcium intake is clearly important for maintaining healthy bones. However, there is developing evidence that it is likely best to meet calcium needs with foods rather than supplements. A new study that needs support from future research found that older women taking calcium supplements were more likely to develop dementia, especially if they already had signs of cerebrovascular disease.
Calcium Supplements Might Raise Older Women's Dementia Risk
October 13, 2016
Calcium Supplements and Heart Health: A new study on over 2700 people found that high total calcium intake (food and supplements combined) was associated with a decreased risk of coronary artery calcification, especially when the high calcium intake was not from supplement use. In contrast, calcium supplement use was associated with increased risk of coronary artery calcium accumulation.
Calcium Supplements May Not Be Heart Healthy
October 29, 2016
Red Yeast Rice and Safety Concerns: It has been known for some time that red yeast rice supplements taken to lower blood cholesterol levels may also contain various toxins. Caution needs to be taken when using these supplements.
Red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus)
October 31, 2016
Eye Supplements: Dietary supplements containing lutein (a colorful compound found naturally in some vegetables and fruits) is commonly recommended for the prevention or treatment of vision loss from age-related macular degeneration. However, based on a recent case study report, more than the usually recommended amount (10 mg per day) may be excessive and may potentially impair vision.
Is more, better? Finding the balance between nutritional supplements and eye health
January 11, 2017
Valerian and Low Blood Sodium: Two cases of hyponatremia (life-threatening low blood sodium) have been linked to excessive thirst caused by the herbal remedy valerian root. This herb is typically taken to aid with sleep, anxiousness, ADHD, and headaches. It is important to remember that herbs contain naturally occurring chemicals that have the same dangerous potential as prescription drugs.
Valerian Root Supplement Use Linked to Severe Hyponatremia
February 28, 2017
Aspirin Alternative: Many people take aspirin to reduce the tendency of blood platelets to aggregate and form a clot that blocks blood flow through an artery. A new European product made from a special extract of tomatoes (Fruitflow®) promises to provide protection similar to aspirin without the risks of internal bleeding that come with aspirin use.
What do your platelets say about you?
March 7, 2017
Herbal Medications and Heart Disease: Researchers reviewed the 10 most commonly used herbal medications for cardiovascular disease. Their use is so common that the researchers urge physicians to learn about issues related to their use such as possible indications for use, biological functions, clinical data, interactions with drugs, and safety concerns.
Doctors should discuss herbal medication use with heart disease patients
March 17, 2017
Vitamin E: Most people do not consume recommended amounts of vitamin E. This appears to be especially the case in overweight people with metabolic syndrome. In most people's diets, vegetable oils are the major source of vitamin E. However due to possible oxidation of vitamin E, these oils are not always reliable sources. Moderate use of supplemental vitamin E is a reasonable option, especially for those with metabolic syndrome.
Vitamin E intakes for healthy hearts
March 30, 2017
Vitamin D and Cancer: A study of postmenopausal women found that those taking vitamin D and calcium supplements did not have a statistically significant difference in the risk of developing cancer compared to those taking a placebo. However, blood levels of vitamin D were significantly lower in women who developed cancer during the 4-year study. This suggests that factors other than vitamin D intake affect vitamin D status. For example, it is known that iron deficiency impairs vitamin D metabolism, but few studies on vitamin D account for iron status of their participants.
Does Vitamin D decrease risk of cancer?
April 24, 2017
Air Pollution and B Vitamins: After taking fairly high doses of three B vitamins, folic acid (2.5 mg/day), vitamin B6 (50 mg/day), and B12 (1 mg/day), for four weeks, human volunteers exposed to air pollution had less adverse physiological responses as measured by heart function changes and white blood cell counts. Long term intake of these B vitamins at these doses could potentially have adverse effects. Further studies are required to confirm this study and to evaluate the effect of longer duration of supplementation.
Vitamin B diminishes effects of air pollution-induced cardiovascular disease