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Do you take multivitamins or other dietary supplements?Dietary supplements. Variety pills. Vitamin capsules. Clipart The majority of us do take some type supplements either every day or occasionally. While most people consider that as a good thing, there are downsides. Vitamin/mineral supplements replace deficiencies when foods we select lack certain nutrients, but they aren’t a substitute for a healthy diet. Individuals with compromised immune systems or health issues, the elderly, pregnant women, and sometimes young children benefit from appropriate supplements. However, most who take supplements do not need them. Problems occur from our warped thinking that if a little works, a lot is better. Not so. Increased levels of certain vitamins and minerals can cause harm, and in extreme cases, may lead to health problems that result in death.

Some two decades ago, researchers observed that those who ate diets with plenty of fruits and vegetables were less prone to cancer. Because of that, they hypothesized that nutrients found in those foods could prevent this disease. In controlled rat studies, they set out to prove beneficial effects of large doses of certain nutrients. Results weren’t what they expected. Instead of improved health, some caused an increase in cancer.

Standards

If you do take a vitamin or mineral supplement, how do you know if you are taking safe amounts? The Institute of Medicine (IOM) established the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) and Adequate Intake of vitamins/minerals to help consumers determine safe amounts. The Tolerable Upper Limit Levels give a safety net to prevent overdoses and/or adverse effects. These standards aren’t listed on product labels. However, labels do list the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) nutritional measurements of Daily Values. In most cases, this measure is comparable to the RDA.

All dietary supplements must have a Supplement Facts panel listing the contents, active ingredients per serving, and added ingredients such as fillers, color, etc. Several independent labs assure that product labels give the name of the manufacturer, ingredients, and are free of harmful levels of contaminants. Three reliable companies who offer seals for those standards include U. S. Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, and NSF International.

Warnings

Some vitamin/mineral products are more risky than others. While most of us are unlikely to have adverse effects from a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement when taken as directed, excess amounts of single nutrients may cause problems. Too high a dose of certain nutrients is dangerous. Those most likely to cause side effects from higher doses are fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, K and the minerals iron and selenium. The IOM established upper limits for twenty-four nutrients. Below are select ones from their list.

NUTRIENT UPPER LIMIT
Calcium   2,500 milligrams
Zinc        40 milligrams
Iron        45 milligrams
Selenium      400 micrograms
Folic acid   1,000 micrograms
Niacin        35 milligrams
Vitamin B6      100 milligrams
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)   2,000 milligrams
Vitamin A 10,000 International Units
Vitamin D   4,000 International Units
Vitamin E   1,500 International Units

Vitamin/mineral supplements may help when taken appropriately and under the supervision of a health professional. Be wary of advertisements that touts beneficial results without scientific prove to substantiate claims. Unless medically prescribed or recommended, invest your money on healthful foods. They are tasty and more likely to help you stay well.

 

 

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If you take weight-loss supplements, do you know what is in them? The previous blog (4-12-15) gave pertinent information on unidentified ingredients and other problems with those weight-loss products. I cited information to check to assure safety. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warnings continue. Now they have flagged:

  • Black Mamba Hyperrush,
  • Diablos ECA Fire Caps,
  • Natural Max Slimming,
  • Lean Body Extreme,
  • Botanical Slimming.

Even as a qualified dietitian-nutritionist, it is impossible to keep abreast of current products. However, if you should see any of the above promoted or on store shelves, be wary.

The first four products included sibutramine (Meridia), a substance banned in 2010 and mentioned in the earlier blog. This drug is especially harmful to those with heart disease.

These same products also contained phenolphthalein, a laxative once found in X-Lax and other laxative products. The government banned this drug in the 1990s because of its carcinogenic properties. All laxatives with this substance were withdrawn from the market.

Botanical Slimming added in fluoxetine, a type of antidepressant.

Three of the above products contained generic Viagra. Does anyone not recognize this product? This drug can cause serious health problems when taken with prescription drugs, especially those having nitrates.

These are only a few of the many products that may cause problems. A healthy 21-year-old in England took a weight-loss supplement containing DNP(dinitrophenol). DNP is an organic chemical used in the industrial industry, especially in cleaning products. DNP speeds up the body’s metabolism and actually burns from within. The young woman sensed symptoms and drove herself to the hospital. Toxicology reports revealed the substance, and medical personal could only watch helplessly because nothing could counteract the chemical. In the past several decades, FDA  officials linked DNP to at least 62 deaths.

How tragic. A vibrant life lost because of no control on labeling of weight-loss supplements. A former medical officer for FDA went so far as to say that most everyone selling dietary supplements for weight-loss was a liar and charlatan who preyed on those who did not understand the pharmacology of obesity. Strong words for those unknown pills and potions we take into our bodies.

Don’t be a victim. It may seem weight-loss the old-fashioned way of diet and exercise is slow─and usually it is. But at least you will live to tell about it, and your health and well-being will improve at the same time. Beware!

 

 

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In the early 20th century, peddlers hawked their wares to those living in scattered households along country roads and often at community gatherings. Charlatans loaded wagons and backs of cars with elixirs of unknown ingredients. Most customers thought it made them feel better.Now more sophisticated companies promote numerous supplements under the guise of fast weight loss. Suddenly we decide we must lose ten pounds, and company X tells us we can do that by taking their no-fail pills and potions.

Many people believe the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guarantees the safety of these supplements. Not so. While all drugs and medications must be proven safe, supplements come under a different category. Dietary and herbal supplements don‘t need FDA approval, but when consumers suspect safety issues, the FDA must investigate and take necessary steps to remove products from the market. Fourteen states recently urged congress to investigate the herbal supplement industry to assure public safety.

The FDA has found numerous so-called “miracle” weight-loss products that make false claims on their labels.

  • Products may have hidden active ingredients found in drugs for specific diseases.
  • Manufacturers may use unsafe ingredients that the FDA removed from the market.
  • Manufacturers may use compounds that haven’t been adequately studied in humans to confirm safety and effectiveness.

The FDA has found supplements containing sibutramine, a  prescription drug marketed as the weight-loss product Meridia. The FDA removed it from the market in October 2010 because it caused heart problems and strokes. A number of products have contained triamterene, a powerful diuretic which can cause serious side effects when not monitored by a health professional.

While some manufacturers sell tainted products online and often heavily promote them on social media, unsafe supplements also show up on store shelves. If you are taking or considering taking any weight-loss supplement, heed  these warning signs to help decide a product’s legitimacy.

  • Promise of “quick fix” to lose weight.
  • Words used in advertising such as “guaranteed” or “scientific breakthrough.”
  • Products marketed in a foreign language or through mass emails.
  • Products marketed as “quick and effective” or “totally safe.”
  • Advertising relying on “testimonials” of unbelievable results.
  • Products with unrealistic or exaggerated claims.
  • Claims that sound too good to be true.

Keep in mind that labels may mislead. While food labels are reliable and governed by the FDA, supplement labels may leave out certain listed ingredients, add unlisted substances that could be harmful, or exaggerate the amounts of certain ingredients listed. Several deaths have resulted from these products. Just remember, don’t take anything unless you know it is completely safe. Try healthier means, like real food and exercise, to help you lose weight.

 

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Are you a candidate for cancer? People may take precautions yet still succumb to this awful disease. While the last blog looked at ways to avoid becoming a statistic, many questions remain. One study rarely paints a clear picture of what helps and what hurts in the prevention process. Below are recent research findings about nutrients to help discern what is best for you.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants are known to block the activity of harmful substances called free radicals. Because of this action, many tout that antioxidants ward off malignancy. Numerous foods, especially fruits, offer an abundance of antioxidants in the diet.

Grapes and grape juice: Grapes and grape juice contain high quantities of the potent antioxidants polyphenols and resveratrol. In animal studies, resveratrol prevented cell and tissue damage known to trigger the cancer process. Additionally, resveratrol slowed cancer cell growth and inhibited the formation of tumors in lymph, liver, stomach, and breast cells. It also triggered death of leukemic and colon cancer tumors and blocked development of skin, breast, and leukemia cancers at all stages of the disease.

Supplements: According to the National Cancer Institute, antioxidant supplements haven’t proven effective in reducing the risk of developing or in dying from cancer. In fact, evidence suggested that excessive antioxidant supplements may increase the risk of certain cancers. According to recent studies, vitamin E supplements increased possibilities for prostate cancer. Mortality rates increased for those who took supplemental beta carotene and vitamins A and E.

Fruits: Many fruits have benefits in addition to antioxidants that may effectively protect against cancer. Apples, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raspberries and strawberries are high in fiber and vitamin C. These fruits may help prevent colon cancer and probably lower risks of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lungs, and stomach cancer. See additional information at this site of the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Cruciferous vegetables: This vegetable group (bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, radishes, turnips, and others) once strongly linked to preventing lung, colorectal, stomach, breast, prostate and other cancers, may be less effective than previously thought. Newer research failed to substantiate earlier relationships. However, these vegetables are high in nutrients and antioxidants and may in the future provide a link to combating cancer. In animal studies, broccoli and tomatoes—which are high in the antioxidant lycopene—reduced tumor growth in prostate cancer.

Teas: This beverage has the antioxidant catechin which may cut cancer risk. Green tea contains more catechin than does black tea. Green tea extracts may lower the risk of prostate cancer. While some studies found that oral cancer benefitted from tea, other studies failed to find the same association. Therefore, studies related to tea and cancer are inconclusive and need additional study.

Vitamin D and Calcium: Vitamin D lowers risks for colorectal cancer. Adequate blood serum levels of vitamin D cut total cancer incidents and mortality. However over a seven-year period, the Woman’s Health Initiative found that healthy women who took vitamin D and calcium supplements did not improve their chance of avoiding colorectal cancer. High intakes of calcium—greater than 1,500 milligrams/day—increased the risk for prostate cancer but results may have occurred because of lower vitamin D2 levels.

Modifying the diet may affect your risk of cancer. As researchers point out, diet alone is unreliable. However, it is one factor you can control to help you remain cancer free.

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