Are Supplements and Nutraceuticals Safe?

The foundation of the Innovation in Medicine (FIM) introduced the Nutraceutical Research and Education Act in Congress October 1999.

This Act promotes clinical research and development of dietary supplements, and foods with health benefits ( nutraceuticals) to establish a new legal classification, and give exclusive rights to the company doing the research for a set time period.

There are 3 categories: Food, dietary supplement and medical food.

What is classified as a medical food?

A food that is formulated to be consumed or administered enterally under the supervision of a physician and which is intended for the specific dietary management of a disease or condition for which there is distinctive nutritional requirements based upon recognized scientific principles and are established by medical revaluation. This would make them prescription or pharmacy medicines.

Here are some examples of Nutraceuticals that can be found over-the-counter:

Medical Condition                                         Nutraceutical Used

Prostate cancer/

Enlarged Prostate                                                     Lycopine

Osteoarthritis                                                         Glucosamine, chondroitin

Neck pain/joint pain                                               Glucosamine, chondroitin

Degenerative eye conditions                                    Lutein

Perimenopause                                                       Soy products

Memory loss                                                          Fish oil,  co-enzyme Q10

Insomnia                                                                Melatonin

There continues to be much research on the topic of supplements and nutraceuticals.

Lets start with soy

Research into a high soy isoflavone diet (0.6mg/g isoflavones) to rats investigating the neurobehavioral effects.

It was found that soy consumption resulted in a very high plasma isoflavone levels, which altered anxiety, learning and memory. Few trials have been done with humans, and most focused on menopausal women.  Evidence that postmenopausal women suffer cognitive decline may be due to decreasing oestrogen levels and soy has been considered to be an alternative hormone replacement therapy. (HRT).

Taken in part from: Lockwood, B ( 2001) Nutraceuticals, 2nd Ed. Manchester, UK. Parmaceutical Press.