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Jacobs Institute of Women's Health
Milken Institute School of Public Health
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Liz Borkowski, MPH
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Events > Dietary Supplements

Herbs, Blurbs - Naturally We're Confused! Straight Talk About Women and Dietary Supplements
January 23, 2001

While sales of dietary supplements climb into the tens of billions annually, experts agree that the popularity of these supplements should not be taken as a measure of their safety.

Lack of regulation on the quality of supplements means that even the most supported supplements, such as calcium and iron, may not be consistent in every pill. Furthermore, dietary supplements such as St. John's Wort, which may be effective in treating some depression, also makes oral contraceptives and HIV drugs less effective. While 80% of women take some form of dietary supplement, most do not speak to their providers regarding their usage. These women are confident in the safety of dietary supplements; 1/3 of these women believe that the FDA regulates supplements in a manner similar to drugs, which they do not.

Many industry leaders feel that no more government intervention is needed to regulate the supplements, but instead emphasis should be placed on the enforcement of existing laws. Industry representatives support the creation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs).

Speakers: Rebecca Costello, PhD, Deputy Director, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health; Linda Golodner, President, National Consumers League

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