supplement safety and the supplements doctors use and prescribe...

Did you know? - Not even one death was caused by a dietary supplement in the USA in 2008, according to information collected by the US National Poison Data System

The 174 page annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centres, published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, shows zero deaths from any of the vitamins, including multivitamin preparations; no deaths from any amino acid or herbal product, including blue cohosh, echinacea, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, kava kava, St John’s wort, valerian, yohimbe, Asian medicines, ayurvedic medicines, or any other botanical; no deaths from creatine, blue-green algae, glucosamine, chondroitin, melatonin, or any homeopathic remedies; and none from any dietary mineral supplement – ie. calcium, magnesium, chromium, zinc, colloidal silver, selenium, iron or multimineral supplements. 

Two children died as a result of medical use of the antacid sodium bicarbonate, and the other ‘Electrolyte and Mineral’ category death was that of a man who accidentally drank sodium hydroxide, a highly toxic degreaser and drain-opener.

Over half of the US population takes nutritional supplements every day. Even if each of those people took just one tablet that makes 154,000,000 individual doses a day, a total of over 56 billion annually. Since many people take more than just one vitamin or mineral tablet, actual consumption is considerably higher, and the safety of nutritional supplements is all the more remarkable. 

If nutritional supplements are as ‘dangerous’ as the US Food and Drug Administration and news media so often claim where are the bodies?

Doctors Use & Prescription of Supplements
In 2007 the Healthcare Professionals Impact Study revealed trends in the recommendation of natural supplements by doctors in the USA.

Up to 79% of the 1200 health care professionals included in the study advised their patients to take supplements. These included supplements for bone health (recommended by 33%), overall health and wellness (32%), joint health (29%), and heart health and cholesterol management (26%).

An interesting fact highlighted by the study was that 72% of these health care practitioners used dietary supplements themselves.

Doctors most often took multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin B complex, vitamin D, vitamin E and calcium/ magnesium combinations for osteoporosis.

Female Doctors’ Use & Prescription of Supplements
Use of supplements by 4501 female doctors was compared with that of the general population. Regular supplement use increased with age, individuals at risk of heart disease had a higher antioxidant intake, and those with a history of osteoporosis took regular calcium supplementation.  The doctors who took supplements also regularly consumed fruit and vegetables and avoided dietary fat. It was concluded that female doctors used supplements at similar rates to women in the general population.

Relative Risks of Natural Versus Pharmaceutical Drugs
Many people avoid taking high doses of vitamins or herbal supplements when they hear that these may cause side-effects. However, the same individuals often do not hesitate to take pharmaceutical drugs with very well-known side-effect profiles that far outweigh any potential adverse effects of natural remedies. Do we know what the real risks are? Statistics from the US National Poison Data System showed that in 2008 no deaths whatsoever were associated with supplements such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids or herbal supplements. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for prescribed pharmaceutical drugs.

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