Focus on Diet, Not Supplements, Suggest Tufts ScientistsFocus on Diet, Not Supplements, Suggest Tufts Scientists
July 22, 2005
BOSTON--While there is cause for targeted recommendations of some essential nutrients, on the whole, consumers should continue to turn to food rather than dietary supplements as a source of essential nutrients, according to a review by two scientists from Tufts University's Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. In a special communication published in the July 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., and Robert M. Russell, M.D., report the most promising data on nutrition and health relates to dietary patterns, and that there is insufficient evidence to rely on isolated nutrients in supplements to focus on specific health states.
"Disease-nutrient relationships are by their nature very complex," Lichtenstein said in a Tufts release. "Within the context of high dose nutrient supplementation, outcomes are frequently unexpected. Not only have some studies failed to yield positive results but, occasionally, unanticipated negative effects have been observed."
In their JAMA piece, the researchers noted the isolation and purification of nutrients have raised the possibility of realizing optimal health through supplementation; however, they added studies using high doses of isolated nutrients (i.e., vitamin E or beta-carotene) have had mixed results and showed possible adverse nutrient interactions and toxicity. The authors did note there remains a place for nutrient supplementation in health care in some at-risk populations, such as the elderly.
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