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2011

December
Algal Oil vs. Fish Oil -- Fish get their omega-3's from algae and many people are now doing the same by taking algal oil, but how does it compare to fish oil? Experts recently reviewed studies of algal oil and concluded that it boosts ("good") cholesterol but it also increases LDL cholesterol -- which is often thought of as "bad" cholesterol. But there's more to the story. Get the details in the recently updated Fish/Marine Oil Supplements Review, which includes our test results for algal, krill, and fish oil supplements.
Concern with Rancid Fish Oil -- As our tests have shown, some fish oils are spoiled by the time you buy them. Spoilage produces a variety of compounds. You can smell and taste some of these (if you take the oil directly by spoon, for example) but others you cannot. An expert panel recently reported on the safety of consuming rancid fish oil. See their conclusions in the Fish/Marine Oil Supplements Review, which includes our test results.

November
More Vitamin D for Obese Adolescents -- Vitamin D is fat soluble, so obese people who are deficient in it need more than other people to increase their vitamin D levels. A recent study in obese adolescents showed just how much more they need. It also determined that a relatively high dose of vitamin D was safe in these adolescents. For details, including the dosage used, see the update to the Vitamin D Supplements Review, which includes ConsumerLab.com's quality ratings and comparisons of vitamin D supplements.
No Benefit of Niacin with Statins -- According to a recently published study, high dose niacin added to statin drug treatment does not further reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke despite improvements in levels of HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. In fact, there was a small increase in strokes among those taking niacin. However, a role remains for high dose niacin in lipid treatment. For details, see the update to the B Vitamin Supplements Review.
L-Tryptophan -- Still a Problem? -- A woman in Illinois taking L-tryptophan for insomnia developed the same serious problems that resulted in L-tryptophan being temporarily removed from the market several years ago. Is L-tryptophan any safer now than it was before? For more information, see the update to the L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP Review Article.
Resveratrol Improves Health Measures -- A recently published study of obese men given resveratrol (sometimes referred to as "red wine extract") showed improvement in certain parameters of health. The study used a lower dose than often suggested. For details, see the What It Does and What to Consider When Buying and Using sections of the Resveratrol Supplements Review.

October
B Vitamins May Help Memory -- A recently published study of individuals aged 70 years or more with mild cognitive impairment found that a daily dose of three B vitamins (folic acid, vitamin B-12, and vitamin B-6) over 2 years appeared to slow cognitive and clinical decline, particularly in those who started with elevated levels of plasma homocysteine. See the B Vitamin Product Review for details including the dosage used.  More >>
Vitamin E Risk -- A study of healthy men who had taken a high-dose vitamin E supplement for several years showed a 17% increase in the risk of prostate cancer compared to men who took a placebo. See the Vitamin E Supplements Review for details, extensive information about vitamin E, and our quality ratings of vitamin E supplements.  More >>
Hoodia Fails for Weight Loss -- For several years, hoodia has been a popular ingredient in weight loss supplements -- despite a lack of evidence. The first significant study of hoodia was just published. It showed no weight loss benefit compared to placebo. Worse, those who got hoodia experienced more side effects. See our Hoodia Review Article for details and information about hoodia. More >>
Women-Vitamin Study - Key Points -- You may have heard this week about a new study which found a higher risk of death among women who used certain supplements. It's a complicated study, but we've summarized some key findings. Bear in mind that only white women ages 55 to 69 were enrolled in the study and they were followed for 22 years.

Those taking calcium supplements had a 3.8% reduced risk of death. The calcium benefit ended, however, when taking more than 900 mg per day from supplements. It's worth noting that experts suggest many older women who take calcium supplements may not need to -- see the Calcium Supplement Review for more.

The mineral most strongly associated with an increased risk of death was iron, which showed a risk increase of 3.9% -- and the risk increased as the dose increased, particularly over 50 mg per day. However, the study grouped dosages of under 50 mg together, making it hard to determine the risk of low dosages of iron, such as those in many multivitamins. However, there is very little reason why a postmenopausal woman should be taking iron -- see the Iron Supplement Review for more.

Although not as statistically meaningful, other supplements were associated with the following increases in the risk of death during the study: multivitamins (2.4%), vitamin B6 (4.1%), folic acid (5.9%), magnesium (3.6%), zinc (3.0%), and copper (18.0%). An abstract of the study is online.

The bottom line: Don't take a supplement you don't need. If you want to know how much of each vitamin and mineral you need from your total diet and how much is too much, see our chart at www.consumerlab.com/RDAs.
Fish Oil's Impact on Cognitive Decline -- Cognitive decline may be a normal part of aging, but a new study suggests that high-dose fish oil particularly rich in DHA may provide some benefit. In people over age 65 with mild cognitive impairment, fish oil was associated with improved verbal skill. Perhaps as important, fish oil also reduced depressive symptoms, which can be a risk factor in the progression to dementia. Get the details, including how much DHA and EPA was used in the study, in the Fish Oil and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement ReviewMore >>
Saw Palmetto May Not Work -- It's used by many men hoping to reduce urinary symptoms caused by benign growth of the prostate, or BPH, but a new, well-designed study suggests that it doesn't work. Some other recent research suggest the same. Even when doubling and tripling the standard dose, the high-quality saw palmetto extract used in the new study failed to provide benefit.

What should you do? You may want to consider a different supplement -- beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol. The evidence remains fairly good for beta-sitosterol. To find out more about saw palmetto, beta-sitosterol, and the supplements we have tested, see the Prostate Supplements ReviewMore >>

September
Chondroitin Improves Hand Arthritis -- Do you or someone you know have osteoarthritis of the hand? A new study found that highly purified chondroitin can reduce pain and stiffness and increase function. You need to give it some time, though. Get the details in the update in the Joint Health Supplements ReviewMore >>
Green Tea Extract and Weight Loss -- A new study using a high dose of green tea extract showed it to help sedentary overweight men lose weight, while those taking placebo gained weight. This is not the first study to show this potential benefit of green tea extract. The effect may be due to the compound EGCG. Get the facts, including how much EGCG was in the product, in the Weight Loss Supplements Review.  More >>
How to Boost Your Vitamin D! -- A study of people whose vitamin D levels did not rise enough despite taking a supplement found that just changing when the supplement was taken boosted vitamin D levels by 50%. To find out how and to get more details, see the recent update to the Vitamin D ReviewMore >>
Vitamin D - Depression Link -- A study of postmenopausal women found the risk of depression to be 21% lower among those consuming higher amounts of vitamin D. For details, including the vitamin D source and amounts associated with decreased risk, see the update to the Vitamin D ReviewMore >>
Better Sleep with Valerian -- A recent study evaluated the effect of valerian extract on postmenopausal women with insomnia. Among those women who took valerian, 30% reported an improvement in their sleep compared to only 4% in the placebo group. More details, including the dosage and type of valerian used in the study, is found in an update to the Valerian Supplements Review -- which includes our quality ratings of valerian products. More >>

August
Suicide and Omega-3 -- A new study found the risk of suicide was 62% higher among people with low levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA in their blood as compared to those with higher levels. An update to the Fish Oil Supplements Review includes the details. More >>
Fish Oil and Anxiety -- A study using a specially concentrated fish oil supplement showed a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms compared to placebo. An update to the Fish Oil Supplements Review includes the dose and type of fish oil used. More >>
DHA in Pregnancy -- The omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, is known to be important to fetal development and is recommended for pregnant woman. A new study suggests that DHA during pregnancy may reduce early colds in some infants. An update to the Fish Oil Supplements Review includes the dose and type of DHA used. More >>
Vitamin D and Diabetes Risk -- A recent report showed that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases when vitamin D intake is low. The increased risk of diabetes is even more dramatic when vitamin D in the blood is below adequate levels. Get the details in the update to the Vitamin D Supplements Review >>.

July
Kidney Stones Linked to Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation -- A recent report showed that women taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement over a period of several years were 17% more likely to develop kidney stones than women who did not take the supplement. ConsumerLab.com reviewed this study. While the findings are correct, there seems to be no reason to give up vitamin D supplements and a small concern with calcium supplementation. Get the details in the update to the Calcium Supplements Review >>. The new information is also found in an update in the Vitamin D Supplements Review >>.









 

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