Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tufts Nutrition Scientists Say It Is Premature To Focus On Nutrient Supplements Over Diet

Date:
July 22, 2005
Source:
Tufts University
Summary:
In a special communication piece that appears in the July 20th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, senior scientist and director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and the Center's director and senior scientist, Robert Russell, MD, report that the most promising data on nutrition and optimal health outcomes relate to dietary patterns, not nutrient supplements.

BOSTON, July 19, 2005, 4:00 P.M. ET--In a special communication piece that appears in the July 20th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, senior scientist and director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and the Center's director and senior scientist, Robert Russell, MD, report that the most promising data on nutrition and optimal health outcomes relate to dietary patterns, not nutrient supplements. They further state that there are insufficient data to justify altering public health policy from an emphasis on foods and dietary patterns to one on supplements.

The authors emphasize that nutrient supplementation, particularly for certain at-risk populations, has an important place in health care. However, they point out that there is an important difference between observing associations between particular nutrients and health outcomes and detecting causal connections.

"Perhaps no better example exists than the disheartening results of the vitamin E intervention trials for the prevention of cardiovascular disease," says Russell. Lichtenstein explains that although observational studies suggest positive effects, "we lack supporting evidence from intervention trials, and that is critical for making recommendations to the public."

Data are insufficient in other areas as well, according to Lichtenstein. "Disease-nutrient relationships are by their nature very complex. Within the context of high dose nutrient supplementation, outcomes are frequently unexpected. Not only have some studies failed to yield positive results but, occasionally unanticipated negative effects have been observed."

The authors point out that some of the unanticipated findings from high dose single or nutrient cocktails may be because the levels used are much higher than those necessary to prevent deficiency disease. In one study, adding a nutrient antioxidant cocktail to a well established cholesterol-lowering drug treatment actually lessened the beneficial effect. "We still have a lot to learn about the use of high doses of nutrients. The important point is to prevent the cart from getting in front of the horse; we need to validate the science before there is wide scale adoption by the general public as we saw with vitamin E. We can no longer automatically assume there will be no adverse consequences," notes Lichtenstein.

In their overview of the existing literature, Lichtenstein and Russell, both professors at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and School of Medicine note that their caution is "based on the lack of a complete understanding of nutrient requirements and interactions, and disappointing results of intervention studies with single nutrients or nutrient cocktails."

"The identification, isolation, and purification of nutrients in the early 20th century raised the possibility that optimal health outcomes could be realized through nutrient supplementation," write the authors, but this advance has been "a double-edged sword."

While the current expert opinion is that there is not enough evidence to justify emphasizing nutrient supplements instead of food and diet for maintaining good health, this topic remains under rigorous research, and new data is published regularly. Based on the available information, the authors say, "eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains and fish."

###

The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The School's eight centers, which focus on questions relating to famine, hunger, poverty, and communications, are renowned for the application of scientific research to national and international policy. For more than two decades, the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has studied the relationship between good nutrition and good health in aging populations. Tufts research scientists work with federal agencies to establish the US Dietary Guidelines, the Dietary Reference Intakes, and other significant public policies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tufts University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Tufts University. "Tufts Nutrition Scientists Say It Is Premature To Focus On Nutrient Supplements Over Diet." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050720065655.htm>.
Tufts University. (2005, July 22). Tufts Nutrition Scientists Say It Is Premature To Focus On Nutrient Supplements Over Diet. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050720065655.htm
Tufts University. "Tufts Nutrition Scientists Say It Is Premature To Focus On Nutrient Supplements Over Diet." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050720065655.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins