Entries in Dietary Supplements (5)


Vitamin Infusion: The New Hollywood Fad and How It Works

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Taking vitamins orally might soon fall out of favor as more Americans opt to drip them straight into their veins.

More exhausted people are heading to private clinics and getting hooked up to a vitamin I.V. for their energy-boosting cocktail infusion.

The technique was fueled, in part, by a photo that pop star Rihanna tweeted last month with her arm hooked up to an intravenous drip. Turns out she was enjoying the so-called "party-girl drip."

Other A-list celebrities that have reportedly jumped on the liquid vitamin bandwagon include Simon Cowell, Cindy Crawford and Madonna.

It's not just stars who are following Rihanna's lead. Music executive Carmen Key gets her 45-minute session once a week at a clinic in Los Angeles. Everything from vitamins C and B to minerals like zinc and chromium are pumped straight into her arm: "Instead of feeling energized, you feel alive," Key said.

Eating a salad, taking a nap and traditional vitamins don't compare, Key said. "That would probably do four percent of what this does," she said.

The session is pricey and can run $175 to $275. Critics call it extreme and wonder whether it actually offers anything nutritious that food or traditional vitamins can't.

Doctors and patients at Patient's Medical, a holistic wellness center in New York City, swear by it.

"I.V. is pretty much instant gratification," Dr. Kamau Kokayi said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Should You Take a Multivitamin?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's been a tough week for vitamins. Researchers published back-to-back studies this week suggesting that daily diet supplements have few benefits and could even be harmful. These findings leave many people wondering if taking a daily diet supplement is a good idea.

One study found that older women who take daily diet supplements of iron, copper, magnesium, and other vitamins faced a slightly higher risk of death than women who did not. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) published another study linking daily intake of vitamin E to a 17 percent greater risk of prostate cancer.

So should people really be taking vitamins? Experts say some people should. Pregnant women or people with specific vitamin deficiencies can benefit from adding vitamins to their diets.

But other healthy people take vitamins believing that they can help prevent disease or simply maintain health. In the past few decades, scientists have conducted multiple studies investigating how supplemental vitamins affect a person's risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia, and other chronic conditions.

Dr. Steve Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, said the evidence showing that supplements actually help with those conditions has been scarce.

"The concept of multi-vitamins was sold to Americans by an eager nutraceutical industry to generate profits. There was never any scientific data supporting their usage," he said.

Dr. Lee Green, a family physician at the University of Michigan, said it's a misconception that supplemental vitamins can lead to better health and help prevent disease.

"You should stop trying to look for health in a pill," Green said. "Health is not found in pills. It's found in good food and regular exercise. Why didn't vitamins deliver on the promise of better health? Because it was a false promise."

Duffy MacKay is the vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), an industry group representing supplement manufacturers. He said scientists usually aren't willing to give vitamins a chance.

"Basically these researchers would rather wait till we all get scurvy before acknowledging any need for supplemental nutrients," MacKay said, in a CRN statement. He added that most consumers shouldn't and don't view vitamins as a magical cure for all their ills.

"Dietary supplements are commonly taken to help prevent chronic disease," MacKay said. "In other words, dietary supplements should not be expected, in and of themselves, and without the synergy of other healthy habits, to prevent chronic disease."

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, said the main problems with taking diet supplements are uncertainties and misunderstandings about the proper dose and combination of these vitamins. People often take large doses of vitamins, believing that if the small amounts of nutrients in foods are good, than a lot of them must be better.

"We know that nutrients are beneficial in foods, but divorced of that context, and packaged somewhat 'arbitrarily' by us, the effects may be very different," Katz said. "Imagine if you had all the right materials to build a house but in all the wrong proportions, and then tried to put together a well-built house."

Some doctors say they have recommended that their patients stop taking multivitamins. Others say the evidence that vitamins lack benefits or cause harm isn't well established.

Many experts say most Americans eat well enough to get the vitamins and nutrients they need without taking supplements. Dr. Alice Lichtstein, director and senior scientist, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University, said the ones who are most likely to take supplements usually see the least amount of benefit from them.

Dr. Jana Klauer, a private practice nutrition physician, said the surest way to get a healthy amount of nutrients is on your plate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Women Taking Diet Supplements Should Think Twice, Study Says

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ROCHESTER, Minn.) -- For the nutrient conscious, a daily caplet of vitamins and minerals might seem like a sure way to get all the necessary nutrients you could miss in your diet. But a new study reports that those supplements may not be helpful, and in some cases, could even be harmful for older women.

The study looked at more than 38,000 women age 55 and older who participated in the Iowa Women's Health Study since the mid-1980s. The researchers found that when it came to reducing the risk of death, most supplements had no effect on women's health.

In fact, women who took certain kinds of dietary supplements -- vitamin B6, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron and multivitamins -- faced a slightly higher risk of death than women who did not. Only women who took supplemental calcium showed any reduction in their risk of death.

The study was published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Jaakko Mursu, the study's lead author, said the findings add to a growing collection of research showing that people who take dietary supplements are getting few health benefits in return.

News about the benefits and risks of dietary supplements seems to change by the week. Buzz about potential health boosts from antioxidants like beta carotene and vitamin E was squelched by recent studies showing that these supplements can actually be harmful. Some studies, like the current one, have touted the benefits of added calcium while others have shown that it carries potential health risks.

Dr. Donald Hensrud, chair of preventive medicine at the Mayo Clinic, said the conflicting evidence seems overwhelming, but the new study helps to clarify the overall message.

"It can be confusing for the public when something isn't entirely black and white," Hensrud said. "But based on this new study, people should be even a little more cautious now about taking these supplements."

Experts noted that supplements are beneficial for people who have some kind of nutritional deficiency, like anemia or osteoporosis. But many people who take dietary supplements are healthy and just want to be healthier.

Experts say the best way to ensure that you're getting all the nutrients you need is still to eat a well-balanced diet.

Connie Diekman, director of nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, said women who want to take additional vitamins and minerals should consult with their doctors to make sure those supplements are safe and necessary.

"Supplements should be viewed as ways to boost intake when food does not meet need," she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Alternative Medicine Popular Among Health-Care Professionals 

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly 75 percent of U.S. health-care workers use some kind of alternative medicine to maintain good health, a new study finds.

HealthDay reports that the study, published in the August issue of Health Services Research, found that those in healthcare—doctors, nurses and their assistants, health technicians, and healthcare administrators—were more likely to use alternative medicine options like massage, yoga, acupuncture and herbal medicine than the general public.

Nearly 38 percent of Americans use some kind of alternative medicine, like dietary supplements, meditation, chiropractic services and Pilates, according to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine—part of the National Institutes of Health.

The 2007 National Health Interview Survey sampled more than 14,300 working adults, 18 years old and up, and covered 36 different forms of health options, including mind-body therapies and energy-healing treatments.

The study revealed that doctors and nurses were twice as likely as non-clinical health-care support workers to have practiced alternative medicine services in the past year.

Overall, health-care workers used alternative medicine the most—more than those outside the health-care industry.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Does Taking Dietary Supplements Lead to Bad Health Choices?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan) -- New research suggests that people who take dietary supplements may make worse decisions for their health than those who don't. 

According to the study, published in Psychological Science, the action of taking supplements leads people to believe they are not susceptible to the health consequences of too little exercise or an unhealthy diet. 

For example, participants in the study were more likely to choose a buffet meal rather than an organic meal (71 percent), and were also more likely not to exercise (68 percent) if they had taken a dietary supplement.

Researcher Wen-Bin Chiou of National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan warned that people should pay close attention to their daily health routine and self-monitor for changes in routine so as not to fall victim to the "curse of licensed self-indulgence."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio