Congress Loves Supplements
Kris was my best friend in high school. He and his mom swallowed many pills a day which I thought was an eccentric habit of theirs, like reading Prevention magazine. I never understood how you could possibly know that you needed zinc or more vitamin B12 than you already got in your food. So I watched them, but didn't learn.
More than twenty years later, Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), agreeing with Kris and his mom. You can find it on the FDA website.
Congress' second finding, at the beginning of the act says:
* (2) the importance of nutrition and the benefits of dietary supplements to health promotion and disease prevention have been documented increasingly in scientific studies;"
You can't argue with that. Nutrition is very important, we know that the Twinkie diet is not very good for you. In fact, it was a defence in a murder trial around ten years ago.
They go on to say:
* (3)(A) there is a link between the ingestion of certain nutrients or dietary supplements and the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis;"
That is interesting!
Congress is claiming that we can prevent chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease and osteoporosis. I would like to see the evidence for that!
As a consequence of preventing chronic diseases, we live longer and healthier lives. To quote Congress again:
* (6)(A) promotion of good health and healthy lifestyles improves and extends lives while reducing health care expenditures;"
Congress is very worried about health care expenditures, it takes a larger portion of our national income every year. In 1994 the cost was one trillion dollars (that is a million million dollars), about 12% of GNP. In 2000 it was 16% of a much larger GNP.
The rest of the country has caught up with my friend Kris and his mom. Congress tells us:
* (9) national surveys have revealed that almost 50 percent of the 260,000,000 Americans regularly consume dietary supplements of vitamins, minerals, or herbs as a means of improving their nutrition;"
Now there are 300 million of us, and the half that used dietary supplements in 1994 has probably increased.
We will look into the science of supplements and the anecdotal evidence.