At Nature Made, scientific research is the starting point for every product. Whether from published research or our own clinical trials, Nature Made only makes dietary supplements that science supports as being safe and providing a benefit to consumers. You may have heard about two recent studies that raised concerns about the safety of dietary supplements. We are here to provide information about those studies and information that can be helpful to you when choosing the right wellness routine for your individual needs.
One study published October 10, 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine1 reported that commonly used supplements, such as iron, may be associated with increased mortality risk in post-menopausal women. The study specifically looked at a population of older Caucasian women in Iowa and therefore cannot be applied to all Americans. The study discusses many nutrients that were called out in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans2, including many shown to be inadequately consumed by most Americans. Dietary supplements are not generally intended for prevention of disease; rather they are intended to supplement the diet where there may be nutrient shortfalls.
In terms of iron supplementation, it has long been known by the nutrition and medical communities that women generally do not need iron supplements after menopause. Iron requirements decrease with menopause, and therefore iron supplements are not recommended for postmenopausal women unless otherwise suggested by a doctor or medical professional.
Another study, published October 11, 2011 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)3 concluded that vitamin E supplements may slightly increase the risk of prostate cancer in a certain population of healthy men. The authors were unable to explain the surprising result that vitamin E increased risk since other large vitamin E trials have found vitamin E to be protective for certain cancers. This highlights the point that the authors acknowledged that more research is necessary on vitamin E. Despite the slight increase in risk, we at Nature Made are considering this data carefully along with expert scientists in the field, to guide future communications and products with vitamin E.
The undisputed fact is that vitamin E is an essential nutrient for the human body. National dietary surveillance data shows that Vitamin E is often under consumed in the American diet.4 A dietary supplement of vitamin E can be helpful in filling the gap between vitamin E needs and current intake. And it is important to remember that vitamin and mineral supplements are not generally intended to prevent disease; they are to support adequate nutrition.
It’s also important to realize that these studies can only demonstrate associations or tendencies but cannot prove that dietary supplements cause harm. Conversely the broader body of research supports the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements to optimize nutritional intake. In addition, certain populations, including pregnant women, nursing mothers, vegetarians, people with food allergies or intolerances, senior citizens, and those with specific health problems, are considered those who may benefit most from supplementation. Nature Made has specific products which can help meet the needs of these populations.
As with any wellness routine, we at Nature Made encourage you to talk to your healthcare professional about which supplements are right for your individual needs.
1 Mursu et al. Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women: The Iowa Women's Health Study. Arch Intern Med.2011; 171: 1625-1633.
2 U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human. Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, December 2010.
3 Elain et al. Vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer: the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). JAMA. 2011; 306(14):1549-1556.
4 CDC, National Center for Health Statistics. Questionnaires, datasets and related documentation, NHANES 2003–2004 and 2005–2006 [internet]. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics.