Be Wary of Dietary Supplements
If a supplement sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
By Jonathan Fielding
Dietary supplements are big business. Last year, the U.S. market for dietary supplements was $27.6 billion, almost $10 billion more than we spend on athletic foot ware. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global market for dietary supplements will grow ten-fold to $278 billion by 2024.
But the more we learn about dietary supplements, the more public health questions they raise. Are dietary supplements safe? Are they effective? Who monitors manufacturing facilities, tests imported products and records adverse reactions?
According to the Food and Drug Administration, dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and enzymes that come in pills, powders and potions. They are available online and in convenience stores, supermarkets and nutrition shops. And they are promoted as having benefits that may sound too good to be true, including weight loss, enhanced athletic performance, reduced bad cholesterol and increased libido. Supplements may also claim to address annoying symptoms, such as ringing in the ear, anxiety, insomnia and arthritis. But dietary supplements are not medicines, and the FDA warns that they “are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure diseases.”
There are a few situations where a specific dietary supplement has proven to be beneficial. Obstetricians, for example, recommend women who are or who are planning to become pregnant take folic acid, which has been shown to help prevent birth defects. Lutein, which is also available in an assortment of fruits and vegetables, can help to slow the progression of macular degeneration. And many doctors recommend their patients take a daily multivitamin, although most studies have shown little if any health benefit. A few good studies have been conducted on individual supplements. For example, the National Cancer Institute reports “the evidence regarding the potential benefits of tea consumption in relation to cancer is inconclusive at present.” And a recently reported study found that Vitamin E does not prevent dementia…….
Source: US News