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Beware of Fraudulent "Dietary Supplements"

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Federal regulators continue to warn consumers about tainted, dangerous products that are marketed as dietary supplements.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found nearly 300 fraudulent products–promoted mainly for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding–that contain hidden or deceptively labeled ingredients.

Click here for more information [PDF].

Relaxation beverages: Don’t believe the hype

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A new wave of beverage products is gaining attention, aimed at helping us relax, reducing our anxiety, and helping us sleep.

We’ve seen all the recent news and reports about energy drinks and the concern about the amount of caffeine in these products. Now a new wave of products is gaining attention, aimed at helping us relax, reducing our anxiety, and helping us sleep. These “relaxation beverages,” or “anti-energy drinks,” contain ingredients such as melatonin, valerian root, kava, St. John’s Wort, L-theanine, rose hips, and chamomile. A great number of relaxation beverages have been introduced into the market over the last three years, with names such as “Dream Water,” “iChill,” “Vacation in a Bottle,” and “Unwind.” Consumers of any age can buy these drinks in convenience stores, college campuses, and online.

Part of the problem with these relaxation drinks is that some of their ingredients, particularly melatonin, have not gone through the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process required for all food ingredients to be designated as safe or GRAS (“generally recognized as safe”). Melatonin is a hormone made by the body, but it is also available as a supplement and is often used to treat sleep disorders and jet lag. The FDA sent a warning letter last year to the manufacturers of the “Drank” beverage saying, “there is no food additive regulation in effect that provides for the safe use of melatonin…Likewise, we are not aware of any basis to conclude that melatonin is GRAS for use in conventional foods.” The manufacturers of “Drank” want their product to be classified as a dietary supplement, not as a beverage, since the FDA scrutinizes foods and beverages much more closely than dietary supplements.

People who have liver problems, liver disease, or are taking prescription drugs should be cautious about using the herb kava, an ingredient found in some of these relaxation drinks. Kava has been linked to severe liver injury, and the FDA issued a consumer advisory in 2002 with a warning that kava-containing dietary supplement products have been associated with liver-related injuries, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure. Valerian root, a medicinal herb, is used to treat sleep disorders as well as anxiety. Although some research has been conducted on the effects of valerian on insomnia, the data are mixed, and no studies have tested the safety and effectiveness of the combination of ingredients found in relaxation beverages.

The marketing of relaxation drinks is also of concern, as it is geared toward a younger crowd, with bottles resembling the look of popular energy drinks and shots. The concern is that young adults will think nothing of having more than one of these a day. Some of these beverages have warnings on their labels stating that users should not consume them before operating/driving machinery or if pregnant or nursing.

What’s the bottom line? Buyers beware! There’s no magic pill, and there’s no magic beverage. Try to determine the causes of your stress and/or insomnia, address those issues, and then work towards establishing a healthy lifestyle overall.

New York Times: "Serious dangers" of alcoholic energy drinks

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A recent New York Times article reports that scientists are worried about highly caffeinated beverages like Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster and Full Throttle, which are popular among teenagers and young adults.

A recent New York Times article reports that scientists are worried about highly caffeinated beverages like Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster and Full Throttle, which are popular among teenagers and young adults.  According to the article, the often bizarre combination of ingredients in these drinks prompted three researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the University of Queensland in Australia to examine what is known — and not known — about the contents of these beverages, which are sold alongside sodas and sport drinks in supermarkets, drugstores and highway rest stops.

Click below to access the article.

Scientists See Dangers in Energy Drinks

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Prevent food poisoning

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Foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, can make you feel as if you have the flu! Some tips will help you stay safe.

Foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, can make you feel as if you have the flu! Symptoms often include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever. It’s caused by consuming foods or beverages contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or viruses. To prevent, wash your hands and surfaces; cook foods to proper temperatures; and refrigerate cooked foods promptly. For more helpful tips, click here.

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Save your knees with a few simple tips

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Prevent knee injury with these tips.

Try these tips from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease to prevent knee injury while you exercise:

  • Avoid bending your knees past 90 degree when doing half knee bends or squats.
  • Avoid twisting your knees by keeping your feet as flat as possible during stretching.
  • When jumping, land with your knees bent.

Source: Handout on Health. Sports Injuries. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease.

Exercise smart to prevent injuries

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Some tips to keep you from hurting yourself while exercising

Since injuries can occur in physically active individuals, here are a few tips to help you stay injury free:

  • Warm-up and cool-down after exercise;
  • Use proper form;
  • Spread activity throughout the week, not just the weekend;
  • Wear appropriate safety gear;
  • Increase intensity and time gradually, and
  • Cross train to prevent overuse injuries.

Click here for more information: Handout on Health. Sports Injuries. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease.

Preventing sports related injuries

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The October 20 edition of the Vancouver Sun has a brief article on preventing sports injuries.

Woman with knee painPhoto:Shutterstock.com

The October 20 edition of the Vancouver Sun has a brief article on preventing sports injuries.

Click on link below to access the article.

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The hidden danger of extreme workouts

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Are high-intensity fitness programs safe?

The Off Duty section of the Air Force Times recently published an article that looks at the popularity high-intensity fitness programs and concerns about their safety.

Read the full article here.

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Build strong teams to prevent operational stress

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Teamwork is vital to operational success.

In the military, teamwork is vital to operational success. Frequently, multiple service branches work together as teams during combat operations. Practicing teamwork skills and building strong teams, that are adaptive and flexible, are essential for mission success, safety and efficiency of troops, and reduction of operational stress. Click here to read more on the various team building techniques used by the U.S. Army to prevent operational stress.

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Consumer Reports® report finds dangerous dietary supplements

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In a report from the September 2010 issue of Consumer Reports®, the twelve most dangerous dietary supplements posing health risks have been identified.

In a report from the September 2010 issue of Consumer Reports®,   the twelve most dangerous dietary supplements posing health risks have been identified. According to the report, these are dietary supplements which are taken by millions of Americans and have been found to cause serious health problems, including cardiovascular, liver, and kidney problems.

Read the report here.

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