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The Truth About Nutrition Supplements

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The Trouble with More Regulation

The American Medical Association says that megadose vitamins and herbal supplements should be regulated like drugs -- with mandatory premarket testing and FDA approval for safety and effectiveness before being sold. That may sound like good advice from doctors. But some consumer advocates say that many Americans don't want their access to vitamins, minerals, and other complementary health treatments restricted -- and perhaps for good reason.

Is FDA Regulation Risk-Free?

For one thing, FDA-regulated pharmaceuticals aren't exactly risk-free either. In fact, with medications causing hundreds of thousands of adverse events every year, many people see supplements as the safer option. "It's important to remember that products like ephedra are the exception," says Judy Blatman, spokesperson for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement-industry trade group. "About 150 million Americans are using supplements that are basically safe." Price hikes also cause concern: If supplements had to undergo extensive clinical testing, manufacturers would charge more to recoup their research investment. "Most manufacturers would simply be forced to call it quits," says Dr. Cooperman.

Moreover, not every single product out there is a lousy one. There are many good, reliable supplements on the market that have been produced by reputable manufacturers.

A more reasonable solution may be to tinker with current laws to give the FDA more bite when it comes to taking products off the market. Two bills now in Congress could provide additional fixes. The first would require manufacturers to forward all serious safety reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) so that unsafe products could be ferreted out more quickly. The other would require the FDA to budget more money to regulate supplements.

Claim Disclaimer

By law, supplements can't promise to treat a specific disease, but you'd never guess that from reading some labels. Most claim to "help," "promote," "regulate" or "improve" just about any normal body function. Before you believe what you read, look for the FDA-mandated disclaimer (usually printed inside a small rectangular box) that reads: "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease." Other vague-to-the-point-of-meaningless words include "natural" (even dangerous contaminants like lead are "natural"), "standardized" (by what authority?), and "verified" (by whom?).

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mauth06 wrote:

dthoma03, do you work for Shaklee? It sounds like you're a little biased. I've never heard of that company or their supplements, but I do know that the govermental regulations in this article or inaccurate. I stick with the facts.

11/9/2009 03:16:25 PM Report Abuse
dthoma03 wrote:

In the 2007 Landmark Study conducted in collaboration with researchers from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Dr Gladys Block found people who took Shaklee supplements had markedly better health than those who took a mulitvitamin or no supplements at all. Yoru authors should really do their homework before rendering an opinion. Facts are facts and they did not present them.

11/4/2009 11:35:46 AM Report Abuse
dthoma03 wrote:

Shaklee has over 100 scientific papers 90+ published in peer reviewed journals that support the effectiveness of the Shaklee products. Shaklee has invested over 250 million dollars in clinical testing, research,& development.

11/4/2009 11:35:32 AM Report Abuse
dthoma03 wrote:

Shaklee products have no parabens, triclosan, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), 1,4-dioxane or propylene glycol. There are no banned substances, no dyes, no trans fats & no artificial sweetners or flavors. There is no animal testing. The packaging is safe & free of toxins bisphenol-A, phthalates & toxic links. (see further comment)

11/4/2009 11:33:55 AM Report Abuse
dthoma03 wrote:

This article is grossly inaccurate. Shaklee corporation conducts over 350 tests on every single new ingredient for heavy metals, pesticides, or any of hundreds of other harmful contaminants. They conduct over 80,000 quality tests annually to guarantee the purity & safety of each & every product. (see further comment)

11/4/2009 11:33:07 AM Report Abuse

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