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What is vitamin B12?

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Make sure you get enough vitamin B12 every day. It’s an essential nutrient that must be obtained from food; your body can’t make it.

Vitamin B12 is one of the eight B vitamins and is water-soluble. Our bodies do not store vitamin B12 so we must consume it daily. It is an important nutrient that helps make DNA, the genetic material in cells, and is essential for normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. Good food choices for vitamin B12 are beef liver, clams, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and other dairy products. Read the Office of Dietary Supplement’s Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for additional information.

What are hidden sources of caffeine?

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The labels on products often don’t mention caffeine content, so you have to know what ingredients contribute caffeine where you may not expect it.

We know about colas, coffee, tea, and chocolate, but caffeine can also be found in some over-the-counter drugs and herbal dietary supplement products. Energy drinks contain caffeine, and some also contain guarana, a plant with high amounts of caffeine. Yerba mate, green tea extract, and kola nuts are also sources of caffeine, and can be found in weight-loss and performance-enhancing dietary supplements. Be sure to read labels for hidden sources of caffeine.

Before taking your vitamins, do your research

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Dietary supplements may appear to be a healthier alternative to other medications, but they have their own risks and can interact with medications and one another. Proceed with caution.

The marketing and selling of dietary supplement products has become a 20-billion-plus industry. Consumers are bombarded with ads, and some people turn to them as “healthier” choices to prescription and over-the-counter medications. Consumers should seek products that have been properly manufactured and should be aware of potential interactions with medications. For other important tips, read the article “Prepared Patient: Vitamins & Supplements, Before You Dive In”.

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Dietary supplements: Questions and answers

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) answers consumers' questions about dietary supplements and the regulations of dietary supplements.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has information for consumers regarding dietary supplements: Questions and answers, regulations, and safety alerts. Click here for their website.

FDA Alert: FDA Warns Consumers to Stop Using Soladek Vitamin Solution

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about a vitamin solution, Soladek; samples that were tested contained dangerously high levels of vitamins A and D.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about a vitamin solution, Soladek; samples that were tested contained dangerously high levels of vitamins A and D.  The FDA has advised consumers currently using this product to stop immediately.

For more information, read the FDA warning.

Lazy Cakes: Brownies – or something else?

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With added melatonin to help you relax, this is no typical brownie.

Lazy Cakes Relaxation Brownies claim to “have relaxation built into every bite.” One brownie (half is the recommended serving size) contains 3 mg of melatonin, a hormone made by the body but also available as a supplement that is often used to treat sleep disorders and jet lag. Selling these brownies as a dietary supplement allows the manufacturer to avoid FDA regulation for foods and beverages. The label warns consumers not to drive or operate heavy machinery and to consult your physician if you are taking medication or are pregnant or nursing; it also says the product is recommended for adults only. Buyers beware…this is no typical brownie.

FDA Recall Alert: Fruta Planta weight loss dietary supplements

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Godi International, Corp., located in South Florida is announcing a recall of Fruta Planta weight loss dietary supplements.

Godi International, Corp., located in South Florida is announcing a recall of Fruta Planta weight loss dietary supplements because the products contain Sibutramine an undeclared drug ingredient. Sibutramine is an FDA approved drug used as an appetite suppressant for weight loss. This poses a potential threat to consumers because Sibutramine is known to substantially increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients and may present a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias or stroke.

Click below to access the recall alert.

Recall of All weight loss formulas and variation of formulas of Reduce Weight Fruta Planta/Reduce Weight Dietary Supplement

Supplements may boost energy but strain troops' hearts

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Military doctors are worried that certain energy supplements could lead to heart problems in U.S. troops.

According to a recent  article in Stars and Stripes, Military doctors are worried that certain energy supplements could lead to heart problems in U.S. troops, particularly those serving in combat zones.

Click below to access the article.

Supplements may boost energy but strain troops' hearts

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Rethinking protein powder supplements

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Protein powder supplements are a popular source for packing on muscle.

Protein powder in a cup

Protein powder supplements are a popular source for packing on muscle. The September 27, 2010 edition Health section of the L.A. Times contains an article that poses the question of how much supplements, if any, should one use in building muscle mass?

Read the full article here.

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Confused about supplements?

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Wandering down the aisle of a store looking for a dietary supplement can be overwhelming and intimidating. The Natural Medicines Database can help.

Wandering down the aisle of a store looking for a dietary supplement can be overwhelming and intimidating. There are so many to choose from, and we often have to make our choices based on advertising claims and rely on the manufacturers for ingredient information. Does the supplement actually have the ingredients claimed on the label? Will it have the reported effect on our health?

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database is the “scientific gold standard” for evidence-based information on dietary supplements and natural medicines, including drug interactions, effectiveness, safety and use, and more. HPRC has partnered with Natural Medicines Database to allow healthcare providers, Warfighters, and military families to search this comprehensive database in order to make informed decisions about dietary supplement use. The Natural Medicines Database also has “Natural MedWATCH,” which allows users to report an adverse event associated with the use of dietary supplements or natural medicines so that they can then forward the report on to the appropriate regulatory agency.

By going to the HPRC homepage, users can access any of the three database choices provided: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database for Health Professionals, Consumers, or Natural MedWATCH. After choosing one of the sites, first-time users should sign up for an account, which is done with an active DoD email address. Once inside this vast database, a user can search for an individual natural medicine ingredient of interest or a brand name product.

The professional version of the database includes:

  • Evidence-based monographs available for individual natural ingredients.
  • Scientific names of ingredients
  • Information on safety, effectiveness, mechanism of action, adverse reactions, interactions, and dosage/administration (which are not necessarily recommended or safe doses) of ingredients
  • Patient handouts
  • Brand-name product searches by ingredient
  • “Natural Product Effectiveness Checker” for medical conditions
  • “Natural Product Drug Interaction Checker” for a list of drugs/natural products interactions
  • Comprehensive information on brand-name products, including ingredient lists and summary reports on effectiveness, interactions, and adverse effects.
  • Up-to-date information for over 60,000 brand name products

The consumer version, for military families and Warfighters, contains the same research-based information on herbal remedies, dietary supplements and other natural products, but in an easier-to-understand version. An important point consumers should be aware of is that it may be necessary to research each individual ingredient in a product before making a decision to use it for health benefits.

So, if you want to find credible, evidence-based information on dietary supplements and/or natural products, search the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Evaluating natural health products can be daunting and there is no other comprehensive, reliable site like it to guide you in making your decision.

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