Tag Archives: supplements

Supplements and Older Adults – Tufts

A recent study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, looked at nutrient and herbal supplement use in U.S. adults. The study surveyed over 3,400 people ages 60 and older between 2011 and 2014. “About 70 percent of respondents reported using at least one dietary supplement over the previous 30 days,” says study co-author Johanna Dwyer, DSc, RD, senior nutrition scientist with the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health and director of the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts University. Older Americans may want to rethink this practice, however, since a growing number of studies have found that supplements may not have the intended health benefits. Additionally, more information is needed on potential interactions between supplements and prescription drugs.

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Disappointing Outcomes: Vitamins, minerals, and other supplements have been touted over the years as a way to make up for nutritional deficiencies, prevent disease, and boost overall health. “Seventy-nine percent or more of survey respondents reported daily use of the most common products like multivitamin/mineral preparations, vitamin D, and omega-3 supplements,” says Dwyer. Unfortunately, these popular products and other supplements may not provide significant health benefits. “Early observational studies suggested we would see benefits from nutrient supplementation, but, unfortunately, many of those benefits have not been realized,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, senior scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. Recently, a review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiologyreported that supplements generally showed no effect on either cardiovascular outcomes or death from any cause. Folic acid, which showed a modest statistically significant reduction in stroke and total cardiovascular disease, was the only exception reported in this study.

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Omega-3 fatty acids and the heart: New evidence, more questions – Harvard

My patients commonly ask me whether they should try one supplement or another. Often my answer is equivocal, because for most supplements we just don’t have enough evidence to give a definite answer. This doesn’t mean that a particular patient couldn’t benefit from a specific supplement; it just means I don’t have standardized research to guide my recommendations. Sadly, this remains true of omega-3 fatty acid supplements. The results of studies looking at omega-3 supplements have been inconsistent, and have left both physicians and patients wondering what to do, according to Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, MD.

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Omega-3 fatty acids show benefit in REDUCE-IT trial and win FDA approval

Two main omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are found mainly in fish and fish oil. Omega-3s from fish and fish oil have been recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) for the past 20 years to reduce cardiovascular events, like heart attack or stroke, in people who already have cardiovascular disease (CVD). I have written about and been a strong advocate of getting omega-3s through diet, and sometimes through the use of supplements.

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Dietary supplements linked with severe health events in children, young adults – Harvard

For the most part I keep it natural. It is easy to avoid the products of Big Pharma, just don’t take any drugs, however, you need to watch out so you don’t get caught up in some of those lurking off the main drag under the guise of ‘supplements.’

Consumption of dietary supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building, and energy was associated with increased risk for severe medical events in children and young adults compared to consumption of vitamins, according to new research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The study found that, compared with vitamins, these types of supplements were linked to nearly three times as many severe medical outcomes in young people.

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“The FDA has issued countless warnings about supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building or sport performance, sexual function, and energy, and we know these products are widely marketed to and used by young people. So what are the consequences for their health? That’s the question we wanted to answer,” said lead author Flora Or, a researcher with Harvard Chan School’s Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders.

The study was published online June 5, 2019 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The researchers looked at adverse event reports between January 2004 and April 2015 in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting System on the food and dietary supplements database. They analyzed the relative risk for severe medical events such as death, disability, and hospitalization in individuals aged 0 and 25 years that were linked with the use of dietary supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building, or energy compared to vitamins.

They found that there were 977 single-supplement-related adverse event reports for the target age group. Of those, approximately 40% involved severe medical outcomes, including death and hospitalization. Supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building, and energy were associated with almost three times the risk for severe medical outcomes compared to vitamins. Supplements sold for sexual function and colon cleanse were associated with approximately two times the risk for severe medical outcomes compared to vitamins.

Senior author S. Bryn Austin, professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, noted that reputable physicians do not recommend the use of the type of dietary supplements analyzed in this study. Many of these products have been found to be adulterated with prescription pharmaceuticals, banned substances, heavy metals, pesticides, and other dangerous chemicals. And other studies have linked weight-loss and muscle-building supplements with stroke, testicular cancer, liver damage, and even death.

“How can we continue to let the manufacturers of these products and the retailers who profit from them play Russian roulette with America’s youth?” Austin said. “It is well past time for policymakers and retailers to take meaningful action to protect children and consumers of all ages.”

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What About Fish Oil and Omega 3s?

I eat healthy and read lots of articles on healthy eating. I also take supplements to ‘fill the blanks’ on any nutrients I might be missing. So when WebMD offered a quiz on Fish Oil and Omega 3s, I considered it right up my alley. I actually take a Krill Oil supplement to augment my Omega 3s.

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You can take WebMD’s quiz here. Despite my general reading and actions, I scored only four out of 10 correct.

I wish you luck. Here is the first question: Taking fish oil supplements is as good for you as eating fish. True or False?

Spoiler alert! The answer is “False. Fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and fish oil capsules all have heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

“But adding fish to your diet carries healthy bonuses that you won’t get from a supplement: calcium and vitamins B2 and D. It’s also an excellent source of protein.

“So try to eat fish more often. Have it two times a week instead of meat.

“If you have heart problems, though, you may need to boost your omega-3s with a supplement. Talk to your doctor.”

I wanted to share this first answer with you because it demonstrates a wider point, namely, it is usually better to get your nutrients from whole foods rather than pills. Maybe that’s why the pills are called ‘supplements’ because they are meant to supplement our needs not fulfill them.

I hope you did better than I did on the test. If not, at least you, like me, got a mini education in fish oil and omega 3 facts. It’s all good.

Tony

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Supplements vs Whole Foods? – Mayo Clinic Answers

This almost seems like an age old question to me. Supplements supply all those hundreds and thousands of milligrams of nutrients. Surely they have more food value than plain-old whole foods.

You can get much more than your entire daily requirement of vitamin C by 
just popping a pill. On the other hand, you can get your daily requirement by eating a large orange. So which is better? in most cases, the orange, says the Mayo Clinic in its publication Your Guide To Vitamin & Mineral Supplements.

“Whole foods — such as fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products — have three main benefits you can’t get in a pill:
• Whole foods are complex. They contain a variety of the 
nutrients your body needs — not just one. An orange, for example, provides vitamin C as well as beta carotene, calcium and other nutrients. Vitamin C supplements
lack these other nutrients. Similarly, a glass of milk provides you with protein, vitamin D, riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. If you take only calcium supplements and skip calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, you may miss all the other nutrients you need for healthy bones.

• Whole foods provide dietary fiber. Fiber is important for digestion, and it helps prevent certain diseases. Soluble fiber (found in beans, some grains, and some fruits and vegetables) and insoluble fiber (found in whole grains and some fruits and vegetables) may help prevent heart disease, diabetes and constipation.

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