Have you ever found yourself tuning out information about nutritional supplements because it all seems confusing and contradictory? If yes, you are not alone. One headline says 'get more X' the next headline says 'be careful about too much X' and another says 'X supplementation not necessary at all'. Headlines are meant to sell newspaper and magazines. They report on what's new not necessarily what is backed by the most evidence. And, the stories are often selected based on findings that are contrarian or against conventional wisdom. After all, who is going to buy a magazine with the headline, "No change in guidelines – eating more plant-based foods is still good for you."
Consumers really need a reliable source of evidence-based recommendations for nutritional supplements. Since these are not regulated by the FDA, there isn't a government run website that you can count on to be unbiased. There are several private companies, non-profits and even individuals that claim to offer comprehensive unbiased information on nutritional supplements, but who has the time to sift through all of these to figure out whose information is the best?
At the risk of offending a number of other great sources, this article is a plug for the Linus Pauling Micronutrient Information Center at Oregon State University at http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter. Chances are this is a source you've never heard of or looked at, but you should.
The website describes the Linus Pauling Institute as a “source for scientifically accurate information regarding the roles of vitamins, minerals, other nutrients, dietary phytochemicals and some foods in preventing disease and promoting health”. As you can see from the description, their mission extends beyond nutritional supplements to also include whole foods. This is critically important because sometimes nutrients are more potent together (as in a food) than they are separately.
When you visit the website, you'll have a chance to subscribe to the newsletter near the top of the page. Do it. This isn't another email newsletter but rather a printed, bound newsletter sent to your house containing all of the Institute's latest research.
The folks at OSU are doing excellent work to bring us all trustworthy, evidence based recommendations on the tens of thousands of nutrients in our foods. Take some time to look at their website, bookmark it and share it with others. If there are concepts or terms you don't understand, feel free to ask us during your next appointment or send us an email.
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Dr. Michael Weir