According to the New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman, four major retailers are accused of selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements. Authorities conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — finding 4 out of 5 of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The products contained cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, potentially dangerous to those with allergies. “Mislabeling, contamination and false advertising are illegal,” said the state attorney general. The FDA has now threatened to take legal action if the companies do not resolve the problem. In response, Walgreens has agreed to remove the products nationwide, not just in New York. GNC is also willing to
cooperate with the attorney general “in all appropriate ways,” but stands behind the quality and purity of its store brand supplements. Target could not be reached for further comment. How often do you discuss the quality concerns with your patients? What are you typically looking for in a product in terms of quality? What are some of your favorite trusted companies?
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Taking daily doses of probiotics can help reduce episodes of diarrhea and respiratory tract infections in children at day care centers. This randomized, double-blinded trial published in Pediatrics evaluated 336 healthy children, aged 6 months to 3 years old, whom half received Lactobacillus reuteri (probiotic) and half received an identical placebo. During the 3 month study, there were 69 cases of diarrhea in the placebo group versus 42 cases in the supplement group. The placebo group also had 204 cases of respiratory tract infections with subjects spending an average of 4.1 days on antibiotics, while the L. reuteri group had 93 cases of respiratory tract infections and subjects spent an average of 2.7 days on antibiotics. Follow-up continued for 3 months after the trial without any supplements of probiotics. There seems to be a beneficial effect for children taking daily doses of L. reuteri to have a significant reduction in episodes of diarrhea as well as respiratory tract infections. What are your thoughts on giving infants and children probiotics to prevent possible illnesses?
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Consumer Reports magazine just published a new release discussing “surprising dangers of vitamins and supplements”. More than half of Americans take supplements, and between 2007 and mid-April 2012 the FDA received more than 10,300 reports of serious adverse events, 2,100 hospitalizations and 115 supplement related deaths (many of those linked to substances (e.g., ephedra) which are banned). The article reminds the importance of discussing the use of products with health care practitioners and purchasing from companies with strong brand reputations. What are some of your strategies in recommending vitamins and supplements? How knowledgeable are you about reputable companies in this field?
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