supplements

The Crime

Three teachers in a daycare center in a Chicago suburb have been arrested and charged with child endangerment and battery. Their crime? They gave 2-and 3-year olds gummie type supplements of melatonin to help them sleep at nap time. On the face of it this doesn’t seem like such a heinous act, but let’s unpack it a little and look at the underside.

The Parents

First of all, parents of these children knew nothing about this use of supplements for their kids. Maybe they wouldn’t have cared, and maybe they would have gone along with it. After all, these...

Anyone who regularly reads ACSH's writings knows that we look askance at the practice of many Americans to gulp down vitamin and/or mineral supplements (VMS), in the belief that even if one isn't deficient they will provide some sort of insurance against dietary deficiencies, or even better that they can protect against diseases. Recently a couple of Harvard doctors, Dr. JoAnn E. Manson and Dr. Shari S. Bassuk, attempted to educate physicians about what supplements are useful (or harmful) when. Their editorial was published in JAMA. Although their message is directed towards other clinicians, it's worth a look for all of us.

First, they point out that most randomized trials of VMS simply do not...

Joshua Corn, “a natural health advocate for 20 years” reveals the secrets physicians have withheld from the public about heartburn, and promised us a way to soothe our symptoms and fix the underlying problem. [1] He skillfully blends fact and fiction to sell a natural herbal remedy.

“For years, we’ve been told that high levels of stomach acid are what cases heartburn. … Throughout your stomach and esophagus… lives a protective layer of mucus… but in many people with acid reflux, this protective mucus has been drastically compromised.”

Whoever has been telling Joshua these things is not a physician, because they are just untrue. Stomach acid and mucus are involved, but they are not the cause. I am happy to share what we do know about...

This week JAMA sought to puncture one component of the supplement bubble, the promised prophylactic benefit of Calcium and Vitamin D supplements in preventing fractures. According to this meta-analysis, these supplements confer no protection.

The authors performed a literature search and selected 33 trials for their analysis. Two important caveats, the population studied were adults living in the community, not in residential settings and no effort was made to identify patients with osteoporosis – a decrease in bone density due to lower amounts of calcium in bones. The primary outcome was hip fractures because they commonly lead to other health problems, but they did look for fractures at...

Celiac disease (CD), an autoimmune disorder that is marked by damage to the lining of the small intestine, can only be treated by following a gluten free (GF) diet. Removing gluten works because gluten is the protein that the body reacts to in order to start the inflammatory response that damages the small intestine. 

But, that is harder than it sounds.

Because maintaining a GF diet is challenging, people who have celiac disease long for therapies that may be able to help them keep gluten out of their systems. These would work, in theory, by degrading any gluten that happened to enter into their diet, either knowingly or accidentally. 

Unfortunately, none of these therapies exist today. Despite that, certain companies are trying to profit off of this idea by...

A Google search of the term “turmeric” yields well over 36 million links (full disclosure: I did not read them all). There have been over 15,000 papers published on turmerin and curcumin, its active ingredient, and more are published all the time. Why all this interest in something derived from a kind of weird-looking rhizome (a rhizome is an underground stem, not a root). Well, this golden spice ingredient has been used for centuries in Indian cuisine (think curries) and in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It has been labeled “one of nature’s strongest anti-inflammatory plants”, and supposed via that mechanism is a helpful topical compress for muscle strains and injuries as well as a useful anti-cancer agent when taken internally.  Some have touted it for supposedly being...

Vitamin D status and supplements seem to have become a societal preoccupation. Encouraging the latter’s use as a cure-all, the “magic bullet” commercialization of vitamins and supplements has created a multi-billion dollar industry. One that is often unchecked due to absent regulation and universally promotes these items whose mechanisms of action are poorly understood and of questionable value—let’s not forget that they also have the capacity to do harm. (1,2)

Hence, why it is important to write about a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that set out to determine if vitamin D3 and Calcium supplementation in older women would reduce their...

Combination vitamin/mineral supplements (VM) have been popular dietary adjuncts for many years, but as research has progressed, various health benefits have been touted for some individual nutrients — some of which haven't been traditionally included in the typical combo products. Researchers, led by Dr. Elizabeth D. Kantor from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, found that while overall vitamin/mineral supplement use remained pretty stable (about half of participants said they used them) between 1999 and 2012, use of some individual supplements actually increased substantially, while that of combination products fell.

These researchers analyzed data from 7 repeated cycles of...

electrocution via shutterstock electrocution via shutterstock

Electrocuting your brain, compounding chemicals at your kitchen counter, chewing coffee cubes. These are just some of the examples of how desperate we have become as a culture to obtain an edge, whether it be enhancing memory, attention, motivation, creativity or a combination of these. We are obsessed with boosting our brain power and exploiting its untapped potential.

There is a whole culture of folks devoted to developing and marketing gizmos and gadgets galore to very hungry millennials who are increasingly feeling the...

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Approximately 50 percent of Americans take some sort of dietary supplements whether it's a standard vitamin/mineral mix, herbal or other botanical product, amino acids and proteins or essential fatty acids. The options are aplenty, as there are some 85,000 different dietary supplements in the United States.

Despite their variety, one thing they all have in common is a lack of oversight and regulation, according to a hard-...