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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Lisa G Brown, BS, RD, LD, CDE (College of Saint Benedict)
Description: This is a reference for those desiring an understanding of the claims made for dietary supplements. It covers a fraction of the available supplements, selected based on the frequency of use and availability of information.
Purpose: In addition to looking at chemistry and functions, clinical implications, and references to relevant literature for the supplements, the book addresses the growing concern about safety, including harmful interactions between supplements and prescription drugs. Despite being about a controversial area, the book organizes a review of available information in the literature.
Audience: It is intended as a reference for students, researchers in physiology and chemistry, healthcare providers, and interested consumers, but it may not be appropriate for average consumers unless they have some chemistry background. However, it is well organized into subsections so that readers could skip over the chemistry sections and reference just the indications for use and conclusion sections if desired. The book meets its objectives, for a select audience with the background necessary to understand the technical scientific explanations.
Features: The book covers 96 supplements in well laid out sections composed of an introduction, a chemical explanation of its functions, a summary of clinical findings, indications for use, safety data if available, conclusion, and a reference section. The shortcoming is that it is written at a level that may be difficult for average consumers.
Assessment: This is a well-researched and laid out reference, but written at a level more appropriate for researchers and healthcare professionals with a chemistry background. As a reference, it is quite large, but it is also available online, which may be helpful for those without space for books, but have access to a computer. This book is appropriate for those with a chemistry background to be able to understand the metabolic pathways and it does provide a nice summary of the current literature. To stay current it will need to continue to be updated as the research and knowledge base continues to advance the field.