Friday, May 19, 2006

In the news: NIH vitamin report

A panel of the NIH has issued a "state-of-the-science" report on the use of multivitamin supplements. Snip from Seattle P-I:
Worried about bottles that promise 53 times the recommended daily consumption of certain nutrients, specialists convened by the National Institutes of Health called Wednesday for strengthened federal oversight of the $23 billion dietary supplement industry - especially efforts to pin down side effects.
Ironically, the NIH panel concluded, the people most likely to have nutrient deficiencies are the least likely to use multivitamins. Link.

A draft report from the panel makes the case for additional government regulation of the vitamin/supplement industry:
In systematically evaluating the effectiveness and safety of MVMs on chronic disease prevention, there are few rigorous studies upon which to base clear conclusions and recommendations. Most of these studies do not provide strong evidence for beneficial health-related effects of supplements singly, in pairs, or in combinations of three or more. Within some studies and/or subgroups of the populations, there is encouraging evidence of health benefits, e.g., increased bone mineral density and decreased fractures in postmenopausal women who use calcium and vitamin D supplements. However, several of these studies also provide disturbing evidence of risk, e.g., increased lung cancer risk with beta-carotene among smokers.

The current level of public assurance of the safety and quality of MVMs is inadequate, given the fact that manufacturers of these products are not required to report adverse events, and the FDA has no regulatory authority to require labeling changes or to help inform the public of these issues and concerns. It is important that the FDA’s purview over these products be authorized and implemented.

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