Friday, September 3, 2010

Alternative Avenues

Supplements and nutraceuticals are intended to compliment traditional medical treatment. Though the medications for treating heart disease for example, may work, they also have undesirable side effects. Because many consumers assume that dietary supplements have no side effects since they are created from "natural" ingredients, they gravitate toward these products in addition to, or in place of other medications. But some claims for these products fall through the cracks. Not everything found in nature is harmless!
Manufacturers are required by law to notify the FDA when a new product is introduced and to provide assurance that the product is safe. The quality of the products can be inconsistent. And once the product is on the market, the FDA must prove that it is unsafe before it can be removed from the shelves. The FDA also keeps watch on the label's health claims, but plays a rather passive role in monitoring whether the ingredients are safe or effective. The resulting label-claim word game tends to mislead rather than enlighten. Consumers should use herbal remedies and vitamin supplements with caution and with the knowledge or consultation of their physician.

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