Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dietary supplements

If you've been reading my health news for any amount of time, you know that I am a fan of supplements. I've got that came-of-age-in-the-'60's sort of attitude--got pills? I'll take 'em. Actually, I hope that they will counter-balance my somewhat less than perfect diet, as in this a.m. bing cherries, yogurt, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I didn't buy the latter, however, they came free from an imaging facility seeking my referrals. Imaging company bribery calories don't count.

If you also like your supplements, and judging from the patients I speak with daily, many of you do, remember that supplements are not a WYSIWYG (pronounced wizzywig and meaning 'what you see is what you get') situation. The FDA has bowed out of supplement supervision, so these companies could put in floor sweepings and call it alpha lipoic acid if they wanted to.

Enter Their stated mission is "To identify the best quality health and nutrition products through independent testing." Beholden to no one, they sample a myriad of supplements, then 1) tell you the evidence behind the product, and 2) tell you whether or not WYSIWYG, comparing label claims to actual content.

Let's say that you're one of many who fuss about overloading your liver whose job it is to clear the schmutz you put in your mouth before it poisons your body. Mine, right now, is wringing its liver-spotted hands over big globules of Krispy Kreme doughnuts that would have their way with my blood vessels if left to their own fatty ways.
In support of your ever-loving liver, you might choose to take Milk Thistle supplements. According to Consumer Lab info., the evidence in support of this supplement is full of mights, maybes, and so-so significance. Nevertheless, they tested eleven brands and found that only two delivered the amount of active ingredient (silymarin) listed on the package. One delivered a bit of lead contamination on the side, but what the heck, your liver will probably take care of it.

There is a nominal annual fee for access to this information which is available on their web-site and regularly delivered via e-mail as well.

1 comment:

B. N. Sullivan said...

Well, at least we finally have this (from and FDA news release, dated June 22, 2007):

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced a final rule establishing regulations to require current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) for dietary supplements. The rule ensures that dietary supplements are produced in a quality manner, do not contain contaminants or impurities, and are accurately labeled...

Here's the link -