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Ask the Expert

Do we get enough vitamins from the food we eat?

Experts disagree strongly on this issue. Individual consumers need to make their own informed decisions regarding this issue.

Do we need to take supplements to optimize our health?

Many experts agree that several vitamins have well proven health benefits when taken in larger doses than is possible to obtain from typical food servings. However, a few vitamins, particularly the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, are potentially harmful when taken in large doses.

An increasing body of evidence suggests that larger amounts of some vitamins and other dietary supplements may have major health benefits and delay the onset of the major debilitating diseases of aging.

How much evidence is "enough"?

Disagreement among experts on these questions relates, in part, to scientific and legal debates about how much evidence is required before something is really proven.

For example, in the United States, the FDA requires that in order for supplements to be considered as drugs for treating illnesses or disease, they must demonstrate absolute evidence of both safety and efficacy. The situation for supplements is much different in many European countries and elsewhere, where the governing bodies also require absolute evidence of safety, but only reasonable evidence of efficacy.

What are the risks?

Our view on this issue relates to the safety of the substance being considered. If the substance is clearly and absolutely safe under the dosages taken, then the only potential harm is economic loss -- and possibly much potential gain from using that substance before the evidence for its health related benefit is ironclad.

 

Sources: Paul Wakfer (was Tom Matthews) & Louis Scarmoutzos

 

 

   
 

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(c) Copyright 1999-2003 Dietary Supplement Quality Initiative. For permission to reprint, please contact our editor.