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From The CriticsReviewer: Cynthia K Aaron, MD, FACMT, FACEP (University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center)
Description: This is a well researched compilation of information on some of the major nonherbal dietary supplements being used in the U.S. Each monograph is presented in a logical format, delineating history, chemical composition, physiologic role, kinetics, reproductive and regulatory status with a summary statement. Chemical diagrams are provided for each supplement. This book is unique in the way it uses data from reputable and peer-reviewed sources and attempts to adopt an evidence-based analysis of the supplements.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide objective, comprehensive, and summary information on nonherbal dietary supplements culled from reliable sources. It deviates from most other resources in that the authors use peer-reviewed sources, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and other high quality reviews from recognized experts. By doing so, it provides the reader with a relatively bias-free objective evaluation of the listed supplements, something that can be very difficult to obtain.
Audience: This book is intended for practicing healthcare clinicians who have patients using these supplements, particularly internists, family practitioners, and emergency physicians. It also has utility for exercise physiologists and other specialists whose patients may be using these supplements for particular ailments or aims. Forensic physicians and researchers will find the information on pharmacokinetics, biofluid analysis and interactions quite useful.
Features: This book covers a number of the more popular nonherbal dietary supplements. Many of these are extensively used by the general public based on claims that may or may not be substantiated. Some of the more topical and controversial agents include DHEA, coenzyme Q10, melatonin, and GHB. The book is nonjudgmental and backs up its assertions with pertinent references and provides data on both positive and negative aspects of each supplement. The summary chart at the end of the book provides a quick reference for the reader. The references are approximately two years old and there may now be newer information available. In addition, the Institute of Medicine is currently collecting data on some of these same topics in an evidence-based fashion to present to the FDA. As I was reading this, I would have liked to have had the companion book on herbal supplements, Toxicology and Clinical Pharmacology of Herbal Products (Humana Press, 2000).
Assessment: This is a useful and enlightening book. It is a nice alternative to the multiple other options on supplements as it uses reliable sources and is scientifically based. Some of the data, such as interactions and pharmacokinetics, is difficult to find without substantial research. It has been nicely collected in this one book.