Archive for the 'Vitamins and Dietary Supplements' Category

Ten important steps to ward off cancer

1. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains. Read about the top power foods.Fruits, grains, vegetables, salmon

2. Minimize high-fat foods and meats in your diet. Read and understand food labels

3. Be active and stay fit. Get started on a regular exercise program that you will enjoy. The 18 benefits of exercise and how to get started.

4. Drink minimal alcohol, if you drink at all. How much is unhealthy?

5. Don’t start smoking, and if you do smoke, make every effort to stop as soon as possible. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society. Stop smoking, get results, change your life!

6. Shield your skin from the sun. Sun damage to deeper layers of skin eventually can cause cancer.

7. Get regular pap smear screening and colonoscopy as recommended for your age, family history, and medical history.  Pap smear screening is an important method of detecting early cervical cancer. Colonoscopy both prevents and detects colon cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths.  Read about colonoscopy.

8. Girls age 11-18 should get the vaccine for HPV (human papilloma virus).  A decision about whether a woman aged 19 to 26 years should get the vaccine should be based on an informed discussion between the woman and her health care provider.

9.  Be aware of and try to avoid environmental carcinogens.

10. Ask your doctor about checking a blood test for Vitamin D levels. Many recent studies have found that adequate levels of Vitamin D appear to be critical in preventing cancer and many other serious, chronic diseases, yet the deficiency is widespread in the U.S. and worldwide. This has prompted a recent surge in the number of general practitioners and pediatricians who are now routinely screening for adequate blood levels of Vitamin D and recommending Vitamin D supplementation

Photo courtesy of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)


Two dietary supplements have been recalled by the FDA

Over-the-counter pillsUndeclared drugs have been detected in two dietary supplements which has prompted a recall by the the FDA.  Two potentially dangerous ingredients have been found in the products that are not listed on the label. 

Distributed in the U.S. and sold via the Internet, Zhen De Shou capsules were found by the FDA to contain sibutramine, a potentially dangerous appetite suppressant.  Sibutramine has been shown to increase blood pressure and pulse rate in some people, and may be a significant risk for those with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or stroke. The Zhen De Shou capsule is sold in a box with an inner foil pouch that contains a blister pack of light and dark green capsules. The recall affects all lots. 

Starcaps Diet System supplements is the second drug to be recalled.  The FDA has detected an undeclared ingredient, bumetanide, which is a prescription-only diuretic. The drug has been distributed nationwide through U.S. retail outlets and online sales. Currently, the recall applies only to lot 12/2011 — 84810, but the company is in the process of testing other lots. Potential adverse effects of bumetanide include fluid and electrolyte loss, hypotension, fainting  and an elevation in uric acid concentrations. Serious drug-drug interactions can occur, particularly with digoxin and lithium, which could lead to an increased risk of toxicity.

In general, diet drugs should be avoided altogether.  Aside from their potential side effects, they entice people into a weight-loss program that can’t be sustained.  The weight loss achieved with appetite suppressants can’t be maintained without a true change in life style.  Weight loss quickly turns into weight gain once the appetite suppressants are stopped.

via FDA, Recall of Zhen De Shou Fat Loss Capsules, November 2008
via FDA, Recall of Starcaps Diet System supplements, November 2008

New guidelines for Vitamin D supplementation in children

BabyChildren should get 400 IU vitamin D daily from infancy through adolescence, according to new guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This new recommendation is twice the amount previously endorsed by the academy.

The risk is highest among exclusively breastfed infants, whose mothers often do not get enough vitamin D. Although breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for infants,  vitamin D deficiencies in the maternal diet affect the vitamin D in a mother’s milk,  so it’s  important that breastfed infants receive supplements of vitamin D, say the researchers from the University of South Carolina in Charleston.

A growing body of literature and clinical studies point to the fact that adequate vitamin D consumption throughout childhood not only prevents rickets but appears to provide life-long benefits such as  protection against infections, autoimmune diseases, cancer, and diabetes.

Specific recommendations in the report include:

  • 400 IU of supplemental vitamin D daily for all infants who are exclusively or partly breastfed
  • 400 IU of supplemental vitamin D for nonbreastfed infants and older children who consume less than a quart of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk daily
  • The same dose of supplemental vitamin D for adolescents who do not get 400 IU daily from dietary sources
  • Possibly higher doses of supplemental vitamin D for children who have an increased risk of deficiency because of certain medications (such as antiseizure drugs) or medical conditions (such as chronic fat malabsorption)

Parents, ask your pediatrician about these new recommendations.

via Pediatrics, November 2008
via MedPage Today, October 2008


Brain atrophy associated with low intake of Vitamin B12

Brain moleculesVitamin B12 is good for the brain. In a recent study out of Oxford, England, low levels of vitamin B12 were associated with increased rates of brain atrophy in older people.(1,2)   (The image shows the neurons in the brain signalling each other. The mists of color show the flow of important molecules like glucose and oxygen. Image courtesy of NIGMS/artist Kim Hager at the Univ of California, and neurobiologist Neal Prakash, UCLA.)

Vitamin B12 is found in meat, fish, fortified cereals, and milk, but up to 30 percent of adults >50 have difficulty absorbing the naturally occurring form of vitamin B12 from food sources. Synthetic vitamin B12 in a supplement or in fortified foods is better absorbed and is recommended by the Nat’l Academies of Science. The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) of Vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 µg/ day. Adults age 50 and over should obtain their daily requirement of Vitamin B12, and all B Vitamins, in fortified breakfast cereals or from multivitamin-mineral supplements.(3) 

Fortunately you don’t have to worry about toxic levels of Vitamin B12 as it is a water-soluble vitamin and has a very low potential for toxicity. There have been no adverse effects reported due to excess vitamin B12 intake from food or supplements in healthy individuals.(4)

  1. via Low B12 Linked to Brain Atrophy, MedPage Today, Sept 8, 2008
  2. via Vogiatzoglou A, et al “Vitamin B12 status and rate of brain volume loss in community-dwelling elderly” Neurology 2008; 71: 826-832. 
  3. via  Institute of Medicine, National Academies of Science The Institute of Medicine serves as adviser to the nation to improve health. 
  4.  Vitamin B12: Vitamin Supplement Fact Sheet from the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institute of Health

Fish oil again linked with health benefits

Fish Oil SupplementsIn a group of chronic heart failure patients, one daily prescription fish oil capsule (1 g/day over a period of four years) in addition to standard medical therapy, significantly reduced the number of hospital admissions and deaths according to Italian researchers from the GVM Hospitals of Care and Research. 

Although the absolute reduction in mortality was quite small (just 1.8%), it was statistically significant, and even more importantly, this study adds to the growing body of literature surrounding the health benefits of fish oil.

Read more important facts and precautions about taking fish oil supplements.

via MedPage Today, August 31, 2008
via “Effect of rosuvastatin in patients with chronic heart failure (the GISSI-HF trial): A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial” Lancet 2008; Published online Aug 31.

Longer life linked to Vitamin D

Low vitamin D levels may raise the risk of death from any cause, say researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  In a recent study, Vitamin D deficiency was associated with an increased all-cause mortality risk by 26% compared with optimal levels.  Low levels were considered below 17.8, whereas optimal levels were defined as above 32.1 ng/mL.

Many recent studies have found that adequate levels of Vitamin D appear to be critical in preventing chronic disease, yet the deficiency is widespread in the U.S. and worldwide.

Ask your doctor about checking a blood test for Vitamin D levels.

Read more about Vitamin D from Bay Area Medical Information (

via Archives of Internal Medicine, August 11, 2008

Omega-3 fatty acids appear to have antidepressant effects

Fish Oil SupplementsIn a review of published clinical trials, researchers again found a significant correlation between increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids with a lower prevalence of depression. Fish and fish oil, as well as flax seed oil, are rich sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

Omega-3 fatty acids are also thought to reduce cardiovascular disease risk by lowering triglyceride levels, decreasing the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaques, decreasing risk of sudden death and arrhythmias, decreasing thrombosis (blood clots), improving arterial health, and by lowering blood pressure.

via Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, July 2007
via “Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Health” from the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institute of Health

Read about Fish Oil Supplements from Bay Area Medical Information (

Do you know your Vitamin D levels?

Vitamin D is gaining increasing attention for its role in maintaining good health and preventing disease. But despite its benefits, many adults and children still do not receive adequate vitamin D.

New research has shed increasing light on the many benefits of Vitamin D and also revealed widespread deficiencies in both adults and children across the country.  This has prompted a surge in the number of general practitioners and pediatricians who are now routinely screening for adequate blood levels of Vitamin D and recommending Vitamin D supplementation. 

Vitamin D has many important roles in promoting good health in that it helps calcium build strong bones, helps regulate the immune system and the neuromuscular system, and also plays a major role in the life cycle of human cells. Many recent studies have found that low Vitamin D levels are linked with many serious, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, gum disease, multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy, osteoporosis, and possibly cancer, stroke, and heart disease.

The new National Osteoporosis Foundation guidelines for adults 50 years and older is 800–1,000 IU of vitamin D3/day (along with 1,200 mg of calcium/day). Currently, the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D in adults ages 51-70 is only 400 IUs (with 200 IUs or less for younger ages)*, which, according to the researchers, leaves circulating blood levels of the the vitamin too low to have a positive effect on certain disease prevention. *The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) has set the Upper Limits (UL) for vitamin D at 1,000 IU for infants up to 12 months of age and 2,000 IU for children, adults, pregnant, and lactating women.

Talk to your health care provider about about checking a blood test for Vitamin D levels.

via Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, June 2008
via Vitamin D Deficiency Common in Infants and Toddlers from MedPage Today,
Vitamin D, from Bay Area Medical Information,