Women want wellness, message to Congress

More than 150 million Americans take dietary supplements each year, with a large percentage of these users being women who are often concerned about how to keep themselves healthy and how to keep their families and friends well.

Recognizing this, the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus, in cooperation with the two leading trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and the Natural Products Association (NPA), recently hosted a speaker lunch briefing, "Women's Health and Wellness 101: Dietary Supplements." This is the fourth of a series of lunch speakers since the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus was founded. The speaker briefings are intended to educate Congressional staffers on important issues related to the safety and benefits of dietary supplements.

Donnica Moore, M.D.Donnica Moore, M.D., President, Sapphire Women's Health Group LLC; Founder and President of DrDonnica.com; Editor in Chief, Women's Health for Life; and Guest Expert, ABC's "Good Morning America Health," spoke to more than 62 attendees about important women's health issues, including what she considers to be the four pillars of health: proper nutrition, sleep, exercise, and vitamins and other dietary supplements.

Dr. Moore stressed the importance of making small changes to be healthier and gave the audience practical tips such as going to sleep earlier, not only to increase the amount of sleep you're getting, but also to cut down on late-night snacking. She also highlighted making sure that you're getting enough vitamin D by taking a vitamin D supplement, particularly since many women don't drink enough milk, don't spend enough time outside, and wear sunscreen to protect themselves against sun damage.

"One of the most common questions that I get from my patients is 'what supplements do you take'," said Dr. Moore, who noted that she personally takes fish oil, calcium and a multivitamin that contains 400 IU of vitamin D. "What's right for me is not necessarily a recipe for all women," she cautioned, adding, "This is a highly individualized decision that should ideally be discussed with your healthcare professional."

Dr. Moore also noted that the majority of doctors and nurses both take and recommend dietary supplements, according to the "Life…supplemented" Healthcare Professionals Impact Study which found that more than three quarters of U.S. physicians (79 percent) and nurses (82 percent) recommend dietary supplements to their patients. The study also shows that an almost equal number—72 percent of physicians and 89 percent of nurses—personally use vitamin, mineral, herbal and other supplements either regularly, occasionally or seasonally.

Rep. Jason ChaffetzThough Dr. Moore's discussion focused primarily on the health needs of women, co-chairs of the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), who were present at the briefing, noted that dietary supplements have health benefits for most individuals.

"There are things that you can do to better your life and using these \[dietary supplement\] products are one of those things," said Rep. Chaffetz.

Rep. Polis concurred, noting that, "More than 150 million Americans, including myself, use dietary supplements each year because they want to take control of their own health."

Rep. Jared PolisThis event was the second of three briefings taking place this year, with the next event scheduled to take place on November 4, 2009. The briefings will continue to take place quarterly in subsequent years. Each briefing will focus on topics relevant to the dietary supplement industry and wellness arena and will feature speakers who will address the latest science and offer practical information. These briefings will also serve to position the Dietary Supplement Caucus as the experts when it comes to educating Congress on dietary supplement legislation and regulation.

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