The Natural Products Association and the Natural Products Foundation issued the following statements in response to a study published today in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine titled "Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Use by Children and Adolescents in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey."
Comments are from the association's vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., and the foundation's Tracy Taylor, its executive director.
"The study is important, especially in a time where health care cost savings have moved into the center of our stream of consciousness, because it supports previous NHANES data not only on adults, but more importantly the data sets on children and adolescents that demonstrate that those with less healthy nutritional, activity and other socioeconomic factors, use vitamin and mineral supplements the least, thus may be at even greater risk for nutritional insufficiency and the health hazards associated with it," said Fabricant.
"The authors of the study are incorrect in their assertion that the industry is unregulated; nothing could be further from the truth. The industry is strongly and fairly regulated with mandatory adverse event reporting and cGMPs [current good manufacturing practices] at the front line of those regulations, in the same manner and magnitude as they are present in other industries also regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the authors' mistake is not surprising considering that studies have demonstrated time and again that the majority of medical schools do not even meet the 1985 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommendations for hours of nutritional education and coursework.
"This is why we are a part of developing quality research tools like the National Institutes' of Health Dietary Supplement Label Database. Scientific decisions and national health care policy should be based on accurate information in understanding the universe of dietary supplements, including, but not limited to how dietary supplements are regulated, so that researchers and health care providers have the ability to factually evaluate the contributions of supplements to the diet, and do not make uninformed statements regarding supplements."
Taylor agreed with Fabricant about the importance of the research, but expressed concern that Americans historically do not get their nutritional needs met through diet alone, as the study's authors recommend.
"At a time when families are struggling to eat balanced and nutritious meals, this study could be seen as discouraging the use of the very vitamins and minerals that could bridge any nutritional gaps," said Taylor. "History has demonstrated that Americans will often forgo purchasing nutrient rich foods in favor of inexpensive fast foods in an economic crunch. And given the fact that more than two-thirds of Americans already fail to get the essential nutrients they need even in the best of times, we hope the take away from this study is not to cancel the nutrition insurance vitamins and minerals provide for many."
The Natural Products Association is the nation's largest and oldest non-profit organization dedicated to the natural products industry. The association represents more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products, including foods, dietary supplements, and health/beauty aids. Association members meet annually each July in Las Vegas at the association's official tradeshow, Natural MarketPlace.