Washington DC (May 22, 2006) -- The Conference on Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements and Chronic Disease Prevention held by the National Institutes of Health last week illustrates the problem of using selective scientific information to arrive at one-sided conclusions that misinform the public about the risks and benefits of taking multivitamins.
This is according to the Natural Health Research Institute (NHRI, www.naturalhealthresearch.org), which promotes research on the role of natural products as cost-effective means to reduce leading causes of chronic disease and death.
The NHRI suggests that future review panels make better use of existing data regarding the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements and become more familiar with current progress in shaping new regulations.
The NHRI points out some of the flaws in the NIH report, which called for strengthened federal oversight of the dietary supplement industry, stating that products are “virtually unregulated”. However, this is clearly incorrect, as FDA Commissioners have repeatedly testified that they have sufficient power to adequately regulate the industry, and both the FDA and FTC have taken action on numerous occasions. Dietary Supplements are regulated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. The regulations require FDA pre-approval of all new dietary ingredients. Congress is already addressing Adverse Event Reporting for dietary supplements called for by the panel, with the support of dietary supplement industry trade associations. The FDA will be releasing mandatory Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) this year as authorized by DSHEA.
The NIH report also questioned the use of doses of vitamins that exceed the recommended daily amount (RDA), expressing safety concerns. RDA levels are set to prevent deficiency diseases, not to help people achieve optimum health, which requires larger doses. There is significant science supporting the safe use of higher doses. The report also referenced several studies as if their flaws had never been uncovered. “The panel’s caution that beta-carotene increases smokers’ lung cancer risks is inappropriate because more complete data shows the true risk to smokers was due to low total antioxidant intake, said certified clinical nutritionist Neil E. Levin.
Consumers should heed panel chairman Dr. J. Michael McGinnis’ advice: "We would not recommend that people stop using vitamins if they are taking them because they have arrived at their own conclusions about what's best for their health".
The NHRI supports the continued use of natural products as safe, efficacious, cost-effective means of supporting health, and encourages the balanced use of research when educating the public about dietary supplements.
Suzanne Shelton [email protected]