The supplement aisle of any supermarket or natural grocery store can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of products on the shelf, all claiming different benefits. Some are labeled with a letter of the alphabet, others are named after a tree root, and some seem like they belong on the spice aisle.
With an industry so big and so confusing, it’s alarming that there are still no strict regulations for these over the counter products. This has been an on going health frustration, leading doctors and legislators to speak out.
In 1994, President Clinton signed the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA). This placed dietary supplements as a subcategory of food. Therefore supplements can go to market without submitting proof of safety or efficacy to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 17 years later, this law remains despite the stories of harm and the urging of physicians for change.
Here in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates food safety. Denmark’s equivalent to that is the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, also known as the DVFA. Stateside, we tend to think of extra vitamins as a positive thing but in Denmark, vitamin fortified food is a diet-don’t. The DVFA has made it clear that their stance on fortifying foods with vitamins and minerals is one of suspicion and concern.
The theory held within the DVFA is that a properly balanced diet negates the necessity for supplementing with extra vitamins. In fact, they believe so strongly in the dangers of vitamin and mineral overdose that fortified foods must first be approved through a pricey application process. Foods found to contain what the DVFA classifies as dangerous levels of fortification are not granted approval.
Among the products recently pulled from the shelves of a small Copenhagen store is Ovaltine. At my home, we use Ovaltine as a chocolate milk treat because it’s nutrient enriched- I feel a lot better about that decision as opposed to pouring a giant glob of chocolate flavored syrup in to my son’s cup. What strikes me as particularly odd is that Ovaltine hasn’t yet been granted shelf-space and yet Red Bull (with its copious amounts of both vitamins and caffeine) has, according to the New York Times.
Bariatric weight loss surgery is on the rise every year in America. Between 200,000 and 250,000 adults receive bariatric surgery annually. A smaller statistic that seems to carry more weight is the fact that about 1,000 American teenagers received some sort of weight loss surgery last year and the number is increasing every day.
The most common types of bariactric procedures are gastric bypass, gastric banding, and sleeve gastrectomy, and all involve surgery which is very risky, especially for teenagers.
While some of the risks for post-op teenagers come from the surgery itself, other risks come from the ability of the patient to follow rules. Since the procedures limit the amount of food one can eat, malnutrition is a very serious threat, made worse for teenagers who are still developing and need those nutrients for proper growth. Because of the risk of malnutrition, most patients are required to be on a strict vitamin regimen for the rest of their lives to ensure the body receives the vital elements it can no longer obtain from food.
Often the focus of crude jokes, PMS is an all too real scourge for many women. PMS stands for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome and refers to the wide range of feelings and symptoms that many women experience in the two weeks leading up to the beginning of their menstrual cycle. Many women report feeling out of sorts, easily frustrated and overwhelmed. Often food cravings for salty, sweet or chocolate foods, are reported. In a few rare cases, women have even used the hormonal swings of PMS to avoid prosecution for crime.
Many women turn to medications, such as antidepressants, to minimize the mood swings and unpleasant feelings of PMS. Zoloft is one drug that has been cleared by the FDA for treatment of PMS symptoms, but recent studies have shown that there is relief to be found in natural sources. (more…)
If you’re faithfully taking your daily multi-vitamin, you should be proud of yourself. You’re doing a good thing for your body and your overall health, right? Unfortunately, you may not be helping yourself as much as you think.
The FDA has strict guidelines and regulations for prescription drugs, however there is not process for regulating vitamins and supplements. The only testing on these products is done independently. ConsumerLab.com and its researchers conducted a test on 38 multi-vitamins and published their findings this week. The tests concluded that eight products contained too few of the specific nutrients, two contained more nutrients than the label stated, and three simply had improper labeling.