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Nutritional Supplements, Herbs and Vitamins

Posted on 06/12/2014

Summary

Nutritional supplements, herbs and vitamins are part of a billion-dollar industry that goes virtually unregulated by our government. Without such oversight, safety issues are a concern, as well as claims manufacturers tout when marketing their effectiveness can’t be guaranteed. However, until recently, they seem to go unnoticed and aren’t challenged as to their safety or effectiveness.

Recent studies indicate a number of supplements, vitamins and herbs that were once recommended to increase health are actually not good for one’s health. One such study indicated that calcium supplements don’t appear to help women with bone density loss. Another study warns women against taking estrogen and went a step farther by showing a link between their use and cancer and heart issues. Vitamin E has recently come under scrutiny by showing no improvements by those taking the vitamin and in some cases it may have increased the risk of heart failure for patients with vascular disease and diabetes. Three such health claims touted for many years to be helpful and in the end, turn out not to be good for the public.

Background

For many years, I have questioned such advice and thought that they could have a detrimental effect on one’s health if taken verbatim without any thought or investigation. My husband, a very wise family physician and my former employer, instructed his patients to never take supplements, herbs or vitamins, but instead, eat a healthy well-balanced diet to obtain all the nutrients they needed to live healthy lives. This was free-of-charge advice he’d dispense whenever anyone would bring up the subject of the latest and greatest supplement that was suppose to work miracles.

He also felt passionately that instructing his post-menopausal patients to take calcium supplements and estrogen was not something he could do because he truly didn’t believe in their use or safety. He went against the grain and urged the importance of balanced diets instead. From that guidance and virtually no scientific evidence to substantiate the claims manufacturers made throughout the years made me leery of their safety and effectiveness as well.