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Are you among the half of all American adults who rely in part on dietary supplements to stay healthy? If so, you should know about new cautions recently issued by Congress. Read more

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The Truth about Dietary Supplements!

Late last month, a Congressional investigation (conducted by the Government Accountability Office) released alarming news. Many of the herbal and vitamin supplements that Americans take daily contain high levels of contaminants. Of the 40 tested supplements, 16 contained illegal levels of pesticides and elevated, though still legal, levels of heavy metals.

That federal study is not the only one to conclude that U.S. “nutraceutical” companies—and the consumers who depend on them—have a serious problem. ConsumerLab is a public interest group providing independent test results related to health, wellness and nutritional products. Their researchers recently tested over 2,000 dietary supplements made by more than 300 manufacturers and found that one in four have quality problems. The most common are inadequate quantities of indicated ingredients and heavy metal contaminants.

Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon. This week the Senate begins debate on a new food safety bill that will likely require supplement manufacturers to register their products annually with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The goal: to allow supplement recalls on any and all products suspected of being dangerous or bogus.

While it is uncertain how tough the bill will be, a number of scientific organizations and consumer advocacy groups are asking the FDA to assume oversight responsibility and start ensuring the public’s safety by providing both the results of professionally conducted clinical trials and other relevant information about all nutritional supplements on the market. However a precedent was established in 1994, when Congress passed legislation to allow supplement makers to sell their products without FDA approval of ingredients or health claims.

With annual sales now approaching $25 billion, with half the country’s adults consuming vitamin supplements regularly and another one-in-four relying on them at least occasionally—it certainly pays to be cautious when choosing what to use and which brands to buy. We can all begin by learning how to make smarter decisions.

First, know that supplements are not good substitutes. Bottled vitamins and herbal supplements cannot compete with nutrients you get from fresh, whole food. Research proves that “quick dose” capsules often run through the body before they can be fully absorbed. Nutritious food consumed at a healthy pace over the course of a full day gives the body a much better chance to absorb what it needs.

Almost as crucial: assess your particular needs. There is no one-size-fits-all regimen when it comes to supplements. Women over 50, for example, need very different nutrients than pregnant women or teenagers. So take the time to get informed and select only those herbs and vitamins that complement your needs.

Women over 50 need 1,200 mg calcium and 1,000 mg vitamin D daily to prevent bone thinning. Be careful, though, about folic acid supplements intended to fight cardiovascular disease and stroke. Experts at Harvard Medical School recently publicized evidence that too much may contribute to colon polyps.

Pregnant Women should supplement 11-12 mg zinc daily to help with healthy fetal development. They also need an iron supplement (around 27 mg daily) to support their own increased blood volume and, since breast milk is very low in iron, to ensure that their baby will be born with enough to last the first few months.

Teenagers need more nutrients than adults, particularly calcium for skeletal growth and iron for energy (11 mg for boys and 15 for girls). However, teenagers should not to take too many supplements because it can cause their unique metabolism to essentially shut down and stop absorbing vital nutrients from any source.


Amazing-Health Tip: Although the FDA rarely approves clinical trials of nutraceuticals, it has approved a Phase II patient trial of Prostate Health Cocktail (PHC), a supplement formulated by Jacek Pinski, MD, PhD, for men over 40. PHC was designed to help protect against prostate disease and enhance a healthy regimen for men combating post-surgical prostate cancer. It is made available to the public only through Amazing-Solutions. To learn more, visit http://www.amazing-solutions.com/prostate-health-cocktail.html




The Recipe Box
Green Beans & Heirloom Tomatoes

Blueberry Pasta Salad

■ 1 lb fusilli

■ 6 tbsp olive oil

■ 2 large shallots, chopped

■ 2/3 cup reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

■ 2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

■ 6 tbsp fresh lime juice
■ 2 tsp freshly grated lime zest

■ 2 cup fresh blueberries

  1. Boil pasta until barely tender, about 9 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl.

  2. Heat olive oil and sauté chopped shallots until limp and clear. Add broth, feta and lime juice. While stirring, cook this dressing about 1 minute, until the feta begins to melt.

  3. Gently toss to combine pasta, dressing, blueberries and lime zest. If desired, salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6. Great hot or cold. If you eat poultry, it’s also good with shredded chicken breast tossed in. (Note: Blueberries are a great source of iron and antioxidants!)


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