Volume 4, Issue 3
|Office of Dietary Supplements Update|
Inside this issue
Multivitamins Conference May 15-17
Recent Additions to ODS Web Site
News for Researchers
CARDS Database Expanded
New ODS Staff
Recent Publications by ODS Staff
Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institutes of Health
6100 Executive Blvd.
Rm. 3B01, MSC 7517
Bethesda, MD 20892
We're on the Web!
Recent Additions to the ODS Web Site
Carnitine Fact Sheet
Several fact sheets now highlight
words and phrases whose
meaning may not be familiar to all
readers. Clicking on them brings
up a pop-up box with a definition
or explanation. Glossary terms will
be added to more fact sheets in
National Institutes of Health|
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Conference Evaluates the Value of
Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements in Chronic Disease Prevention
On May 15-17, ODS and the Office of Medical Applications of Research
sponsored an NIH State-of-the-Science Conference to assess the available
evidence on the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements containing multiple
vitamins and minerals (MVMs) to help prevent chronic diseases. More than
one-third of adults in the United States are estimated to take MVMs, so it was
appropriate to examine whether this regular use is safe and might provide
health benefits—specifically, reducing the risks of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis,
vision loss, and other chronic conditions that afflict a majority of Americans as they
More than 500 people attended this 3-day conference in the Natcher Auditorium
on the NIH campus, which focused on six questions:
- What are the current patterns and prevalence of the public's use of MVM
- What is known about the dietary nutrient intake of MVM users versus non-users?
- What is the efficacy of single vitamin/mineral supplement use in chronic disease
- What is the efficacy of MVM in chronic disease prevention in the general
population of adults?
- What is known about the safety of MVM for the generally healthy population?
- What are the major knowledge gaps and research opportunities regarding MVM
(The term MVM referred to any supplement containing three or more
vitamins and minerals, without herbal ingredients, and with each nutrient at a
dose less than the Tolerable Upper Intake Level [UL] determined by the Food and
The conference was part of the NIH Consensus Development Program in
which carefully selected panels review the science on important medical or healthrelated
practices. The 13-member panel assembled for this event included experts
in food science and human nutrition, biostatistics, biochemistry, toxicology,
family and geriatric medicine, pediatrics, cancer prevention, disease prevention
and health promotion, and consumer protection. The panel was chaired by J.
Michael McGinnis, MD, Senior Scholar at the Institute of Medicine of the National
In developing its formal statement, the panel listened to the presentations by
19 invited speakers, heard the questions and comments of participants during
the discussion sessions, and reviewed published research. They also studied
the results of a systematic review of randomized controlled trials on the topic
prepared by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Evidencebased
Practice Center at Johns Hopkins University.
The panel concluded that there was insufficient scientific evidence to
determine whether or not the regular use of MVMs help to prevent chronic disease.
According to Dr. McGinnis, "More than half of American adults are taking dietary
supplements, the majority of which are 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." The panel
emphasized that its findings pertained only to generally healthy adults and did
not include pregnant women, children, or those with disease.
The panel did recommend nutrient supplements in some cases. It urged that
postmenopausal women take calcium and vitamin D supplements to protect
bone health. And it advised non-smoking adults with early-stage, age-related
macular degeneration to consider taking supplements of zinc and the antioxidants
vitamins C, E, and beta carotene. The panel also endorsed previous recommendations
that women of childbearing age consume enough folic acid to prevent neural tube
defects in infants.
Dozens of reporters from top news organizations attended the press briefing
both in person and via the internet. As a result, articles appeared in major media
publications such as The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. CNN and
NPR covered the story and included it on their Web sites. Coverage by Associated
Press and Reuters new services ensured articles about the conference in many
other newspapers, broadcasts, and Web sites located throughout the United States
and around the world—from as far away as Russia and Malaysia. ODS Director Paul
Coates and Dr. McGinnis gave numerous radio interviews both together and
individually to discuss the conference panel's findings.
Go to http://www.consensus.nih.gov/
to access a full set of materials from the conference, including the program and
abstracts book, the panel statement (which will also appear in the September
5 Annals of Internal Medicine), the Johns Hopkins evidence-based review, and an
NIH press release. A webcast archive of the entire conference is also available there. In
December, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition will publish a supplement of the
conference that includes the scientific papers prepared by the speakers based on
NAPRALERT Database: 31 Years Old and Still Growing
Interested in review articles on Aloe vera? Want to learn about the historical use
and biological-testing results of Turnera diffusa (better known as damiana, used as
an aphrodisiac by the ancient Mayans)? For these and many other such queries,
consider using NAPRALERT (NAtural PRoducts ALERT) the largest relational
database of the world's literature on the traditional uses, chemistry, and
pharmacology of natural products and their ingredients, including secondary
metabolites. It can be accessed directly at http://napralert.org.
Begun in 1975, NAPRALERT contains more than 200,000 scientific papers and reviews
that represent animal, plant, and microbial organisms from all countries of the world.
The database now provides an easier-to-use interface and format. The Web site
includes the results of several sample searches so a potential user may learn
whether the information desired can be found in the database. The cost to receive
a list of citations and a summary is based on the number of citations a search reveals
(50¢ each for 100 or fewer; 25¢ each for 101 or more).
NAPRALERT is maintained by the Program for Collaborative Research in the
Pharmaceutical Sciences at the College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at
Chicago, under the direction of Norman R. Farnsworth, PhD. ODS has provided some
financial support to maintain NAPRALERT. Dr. Farnsworth also directs an ODS cofunded
Botanical Research Center focused on women's health issues.
New ODS Staff
ODS welcomes four new members to our team:
Jody Engel, MA, RD
As a Program Analyst, Jody will work with Dr. Joseph Betz on the
Analytical Methods and Reference Materials program and Dr.
Christine Swanson on the Botanical Research Centers program.
Jody has a master's degree from Tulane University in applied social
research and a recent BS degree from the University of Maryland in
dietetics. Prior to completing her dietetic internship at the NIH Clinical
Research Center, Jody worked part-time at ODS as Scientific
Régine Z. Laroche, BA
Régine is a full-time contractor working with Dr. Mary Frances
Picciano on various projects, including a seminar series and development
of a professional education program on dietary supplements.
Her bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland is in
government and politics.
Claudia D. Faigen, MA
Claudia is a part-time contractor who works with Dr. Anne Thurn on
ODS communications issues and outreach efforts. She received her
master's degree from the University of Maryland College of Journalism and a BA in communications
from Rutgers University.
Elizabeth A. Connors
A summer volunteer, Liz assists
Dr. Elizabeth Yetley in a project to evaluate the nature and extent of
NIH support for research on soy products. She returns to Emory
University in the fall as a junior majoring in neuroscience and behavioral
News for Researchers
ODS coordinates and collaborates on funding initiatives across NIH
and with other agencies through mechanisms such as Requests for
Applications (RFAs) and Program Announcements (PAs). Some of
these initiatives are highlighted below. For further information
about them and other ODS-funded opportunities, visit
Collaborative Research on Tinnitus (RFA-DC-07-004)
Tinnitus affects more than 50 million Americans to some degree.
Two million are so seriously debilitated by the condition that they
cannot function normally, finding it difficult to hear, work, or sleep.
At present, there is no real understanding of the biological bases of
tinnitus. Progress in understanding the neural correlates of tinnitus
and designing effective treatments and ways to prevent it requires the
development of interdisciplinary approaches. Therefore, applications
must demonstrate a collaborative approach across two,
or preferably more, disciplines. Appropriate research topics would
include clinical studies to evaluate the potential benefits of dietary
supplements and complementary and alternative methods for
treating tinnitus as well as chemoprotective agents (such as antioxidants)
to prevent the disorder.
Diet, Epigenetic Events, and Cancer Prevention (PA-06-412)
This PA is intended to promote clinical and preclinical research
to determine how diet and dietary factors, including dietary supplements,
impact DNA methylation, histone posttranslational modification,
and other epigenetic processes involved in cancer prevention
and development. Another aim is to encourage collaborations
between nutrition and epigenetic experts to study bioactive food
components with cancer-preventative properties and to examine
key epigenetic events in cancer processes (e.g., carcinogen metabolism,
cell division, differentiation, and apoptosis) to establish
linkages between epigenetics, methylation patterns, and tumor
incidences and behaviors. The information gained should provide
guidance for the development of dietary intervention strategies for
Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards for
Individual Predoctoral Fellowships (F31) to Promote Diversity
in Health-Related Research (PA-06-481)
This initiative seeks to improve the diversity of the health-related
research workforce by supporting the training of predoctoral
students from underrepresented groups. Such candidates include
individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, disadvantaged
backgrounds, and those with disabilities.
CARDS Database Expanded
The Computer Access to Research on Dietary Supplements (CARDS) database
provides information on dietary supplement related projects funded by
the federal government since fiscal year (FY) 1999. CARDS currently contains
projects funded through FY2004 for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
and the Department of Defense, and through FY2002 for the U.S. Department
of Agriculture (USDA). Project information received from NIH for FY2005 and USDA
for FY2003 are currently being coded by ODS staff and will be available in the fall.
Access the CARDS database at
The 47th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Pharmacognosy*
Dr. Joseph Betz will chair a workshop titled Bucking the System: Non-Academic Careers
for Natural Products Scientists and a symposium titled Clinical Evaluation of Herbs and
Supplements: Trials, Toxicology, and Drug Interactions. ODS has provided financial support
for the meeting and travel awards to two postdocs.
Standardization of the Terminology for Expression of Analytical Results for Isoflavones
University, MS (The University of Mississippi)
ODS is sponsoring this 1-day symposium.
NIH Visitors Center, Building 45*
Heart Failure Society of America: 10th Annual Scientific Meeting
Dr. Rebecca Costello will co-moderate a session titled Nutritional Aspects of Heart Failure.
Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (American Dietetic Association)*
At a session titled What You Need to Know About Multivitamin and Mineral Supplements,
Dr. Leila Saldanha will preside. Dr. Johanna Dwyer will present "State of the science:
multivitamin-mineral supplements and chronic disease risk." Dr. Mary Frances Picciano
will present "What are intakes of key nutrients among American children, and what
supplements are they taking?"
30th National Nutrient Databank Conference: The Role of Food Composition in
Improving Dietetic Practice
Dr. Johanna Dwyer will deliver a presentation titled "Progress in developing dietary
supplement databases at NIH's Office of Dietary Supplements." Dr. Mary Frances
Picciano's presentation is titled "Development of NOADS: The NHANES (National Health
and Nutrition Examination Survey) Online Analyst for Dietary Supplements: a web-based
tool for analysis of total nutrient intakes and their relation to biomarkers of nutritional
American College of Nutrition, 47th Annual Meeting/Symposium*
Dr. Rebecca Costello will moderate a session titled Nutrition in Preventive Medicine and
Chronic Disease Management at which Dr. Sushil K. Jain, an NIH and ODS grantee, will
SupplySide West International Trade Show and Conference*
Las Vegas, NV
Dr. Elizabeth Yetley will chair and speak at a session titled Understanding the Systematic
Review Process in Evidence-Based Decisions. Dr. Joseph Betz will chair and speak at a
session titled Defining and Demonstrating Quality.
AARP National Event & Expo: Life@50+*
* ODS will be exhibiting at these venues
through October. Stop by to learn more
about us, meet several of our staff, and
pick up some of our materials.
Recent Publications by ODS Staff
- Johanna Dwyer, Louise A. Berner, and Ian C. Munro (editors). Understanding Tolerable Upper Intake Levels. Journal of Nutrition 136(2S-1):485S-521S, February 2006.
- Abby G. Ershow and Rebecca B. Costello. Dietary guidance in heart failure: a perspective on needs for prevention and management. Heart Failure Reviews 11(1):7-12, March 2006.
- Alessandra Tavani, Luana Spertini, Cristina Bosetti, Maria Parpinel, Patrizia Gnagnarella, Francesca Bravi,
Julie Peterson, Johanna Dwyer, Pagona Lagiou, Eva Negri, and Carlo La Vecchia. Intake of specific flavonoids
and risk of acute myocardial infarction in Italy. Public Health Nutrition 9(3):369-374, May 2006.
- Tsunenobu Tamura and Mary Frances Picciano. Folate and human reproduction. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 83(5):993-1016, May 2006.
Chenchen Wang, William S. Harris, Mei Chung, Alice H. Lichtenstein, Ethan M. Balk, Bruce Kupelnick, Harmon
S. Jordan, and Joseph Lau. n-3 fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not α-linolenic acid, benefit
cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary- and secondary-prevention studies: a systematic review. American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition 84(1):5-17, July 2006.
This paper is based on three reports for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that were commissioned
and funded by ODS.