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Balanced diet beats dietary supplements, claims ADA

By Mike Stones , 07-Dec-2009

A balanced diet is best way to safeguard health and to prevent disease rather than relying on nutrition supplementation, according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

The association’s latest position statement on nutrient supplementation concluded with a view the dietary supplements industry and many consumers who struggle to achieve a balanced diet, view as archaic:

“…..the best nutrition-based strategy for promoting optimal health and reducing the risk of chronic disease is to wisely choose a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods.”

But the association also confirmed that: “Additional nutrients from supplements can help some people meet their nutrition needs as specified by science-based nutrition standards such as the Dietary Reference Intakes.”

Nutrient intake levels

Many Americans do not meet recommended nutrient intake levels and about one third of adults regularly use dietary supplements in general, and dietary supplements in particular, said ADA. It fears consumers may not be well-informed about the safety and efficacy of supplements and some may have difficulty interpreting product labels.

To remedy that problem, the association recommended that dietetics practitioners help educate the public on healthful dietary patterns and on the safe and appropriate selection and use of dietary supplements to meet nutrient needs and optimize health.

In order to achieve this aim, the association advises dietetics practitioners to: “…keep abreast of research findings on potential benefits and safety of nutrient supplements and on the regulations that govern these products.”

Such medical professionals should position themselves as the first source of information on nutrient supplementation, it said. That requires practitioners to keep up-to-date on the efficacy and safety of dietary supplements and the regulatory issues that affect the use of these products.

ADA said it had released its latest position paper in order to highlight current issues relevant to dietary supplements and the resources available to assist dietetics practitioners in evaluating the potential benefits and adverse outcomes regarding their use.

Multivitamins

Meanwhile in 2007, dietary supplement sales grew to $23.7bn, according to Nutrition Business Journal. Sales of multivitamins, the most commonly purchased of supplements, grew 3.9 percent in 2007 to reach annual sales of $4.5bn.

Sales of single-nutrient supplements including calcium, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A/beta carotene, magnesium, and iron also grew during the year but vitamin E supplement sales fell slightly.

According to the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 52 percent of adults reported taking a dietary supplement in the past month and 35 percent said they took a multivitamin/mineral supplement.

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