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NIH panel urges more informed approach to multivitamin/mineral use for chronic disease prevention

An independent panel convened this week by the NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research and the Office of Dietary Supplements assessed the available evidence on the safety and effectiveness of multivitamin/minerals (MVMs). Following two days of expert presentations, public discussion, and panel deliberations, the panel made recommendations regarding certain specific supplements but ultimately concluded that more rigorous scientific research is needed before strong recommendations can be made regarding MVM use to prevent chronic diseases.

The panel released a draft statement of its findings this morning, at the close of the conference. The panel's findings pertain to the generally healthy population, and do not include pregnant women, children, or those with disease. Full text of the panel's draft state-of-the-science statement will be available late today at http://consensus.nih.gov. The final version will be available at the same Web site in four to six weeks.

"Half of American adults are taking MVMs and the bottom line is that we don't know for sure that they're benefiting from them. In fact, we're concerned that some people may be getting too much of certain nutrients," said J. Michael McGinnis, M.D., M.P.P., Senior Scholar with the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, who chaired the panel.

The panel recommended the combined use of calcium and vitamin D supplementation for postmenopausal women to protect bone health. The panel also advocated that anti-oxidants and zinc be considered for use by non-smoking adults with early-stage, age-related macular degeneration, an eye condition that can cause blindness. The panel supports previous recommendations by the CDC that women of childbearing age take daily folate to prevent neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain and spinal cord) in infants. Conversely, it found no evidence to recommend beta carotene supplements,
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Contact: Kelli Marciel
marcielk@od.nih.gov
301-496-4819
NIH/National Institutes of Health, Office of Disease Prevention
17-May-2006


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