The PDR Family Guide to Nutritional Supplements: An Authoritative A-to-Z Resource on the 100 Most Popular Nutritional Therapies and Nutraceuticals

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Overview

SAMe to fight depression . . . Pyruvate for weight control . . . Glucosamine for arthritis . . . Inositol to unclog arteries . . . Phosphatidylcholine to combat memory loss. . . .

Welcome to the exciting new world of designer foods and nutraceuticals that promises hope for everything from baldness to kidney disease. As scientists learn more about the potent protective and healing substances found in common foods (some of them as beneficial as prescription drugs) you owe it to yourself to learn all you can about their health-giving potential. Now the Physicians' Desk Reference(R), the most trusted name in medical publishing, provides you with a wealth of factual, unbiased information, including

* The biochemical makeup and healing properties of each supplement
* How the supplements interact with your body and produce results
* The common formulations and dosage
* Which nutraceuticals do not live up to their claims
* Side effects and other dangers, including drug interactions
* Special information for pregnant or breast-feeding women

PLUS the basic dos and don'ts for using nutritional supplements and a handy usage index that makes finding information easy!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345433763
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/27/2001
  • Series: PDR Family Guides Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Alginates

Why People Take Them

Derived from brown seaweeds, these substances are a surprisingly common part of the American diet. The food industry uses them as a thickening, stabilizing, or gelling agent in foods such as ice cream, pudding, and salad dressings. As food additives, they are rated “generally recognized as safe” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In the health care industry, dentists use Alginates to create dental impressions. Alginates are also reportedly useful for removing toxins such as lead from the body. And, for some time, these compounds have been used as wound dressings because of their ability to absorb excess fluid from the wound while keeping the wound itself moist. (But whether this type of dressing actually promotes healing is a subject of continued debate.)

As medicines, Alginates are used primarily for relief of indigestion and heartburn, taken alone or in combination with antacids. There is some evidence to support their value as a heartburn remedy. At least one clinical study has found that an Alginate liquid reduced the number of attacks of acid backflow (reflux) that leads to heartburn. (But the study also found that, when reflux did occur, the Alginate did not shorten its duration.)

Another study found greater improvement in symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) among people treated with Alginate than among those treated with the prescription drug Propulsid (a heartburn remedy that was recently taken off the market due to potentially dangerous interactions with other drugs). However, a third study found that treatment with yet another prescription drug—namely, omeprazole(Prilosec)—was more effective in relieving symptoms of GERD than an antacidAlginate combination.

A variety of other claims have been made for Alginates. They are being investigated as a possible cancer preventive. They are being studied for their role in treating diabetes, stimulating the growth of human skin cells, and immobilizing cells for transplantation purposes. The possibility that they can boost the immune system is also being examined. To date, however, none of these potential benefits has been conclusively verified.

What They Are; How They Work

Alginates are a form of indigestible polysaccharide (fiber). There are various types, all derived from the salts of alginic acid; they include ammonium alginate, calcium alginate, potassium alginate, and sodium alginate.

Their “healing power” comes from their ability to absorb fluids and to form a gel. In the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux, for example, Alginates are believed to form a foamlike layer that floats on the surface of gastric contents in the stomach and prevents the backflow of these contents into the esophagus.

Avoid if . . .

Don’t take Alginates if you have an allergy to seaweed or are sensitive to iodine.

Special Cautions

In one study, Alginates were found to cause constipation, digestive difficulties, and weight gain. However, such problems are rare.

Possible Drug Interactions

Alginates may decrease intestinal absorption. For example, they could affect the absorption of other treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disorder such as ranitidine (Tritec, Zantac) or cimetidine (Tagamet). If you’re taking these or any other drugs, it’s best to check with your doctor before taking Alginates.

Special Information if You Are Pregnant or Breast-feeding

Although there’s no reason to suspect a problem, the effect of Alginates on a developing baby has not been studied. It’s wise to check with your doctor before taking this or any other supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Available Preparations and Dosage

Alginates are available in tablet, capsule, powder, and liquid form. Over-the-counter tablets containing Alginates are usually found in combinations with antacids.

Clinical studies involving liquid Alginate typically used doses ranging from 10 to 20 milliliters. The recommended dose for an antacidAlginate tablet is two tablets containing 200 milligrams of alginic acid.

Overdosage

No information on overdosage is available.

Androstenedione

Why People Take It

With a surge of publicity over the use of Androstenedione (Andro) by popular athletes such as home run king Mark McGwire, sales of this trendy over-the-counter supplement have soared. Promoters of Andro claim that it boosts testosterone levels—an appealing effect for athletes and bodybuilders who want increased muscle mass and athletic endurance. There are also reports that it enhances the sex drive and sexual performance.

However, the popularity of Andro, especially among teenage athletes, has set off alarms in the medical community. Concern over the safety of this hormonal precursor has prompted increased scientific investigation and revealed some decidedly unwanted effects. While not illegal, the substance is now banned by the International Olympic Committee, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association for use by their athletes. Physicians argue that it is a powerful steroid and warn that its effects, especially in the long term, are not known and could have a negative impact on health. Consequently, there are groups working to have it banned completely by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Bottom line: This product delivers results, but possibly more than you bargained for. Until more is known about the health risks associated with Androstenedione, use it only with your doctor’s advice.

What It Is; How It Works

Androstenedione is a naturally occurring hormone precursor produced primarily in the testes of men. The body converts Androstenedione into the male sex hormone testosterone, which is responsible for male sexual characteristics such as facial hair, lower voice, and larger muscles. It is also produced in smaller amounts by the adrenal glands of both men and women. Testosterone is responsible for muscle building and is part of a healthy hormonal balance in both sexes.

Promoters of synthetic over-the-counter Andro insist that it is safe and that oral doses are converted directly to boost testosterone levels in the bloodstream, resulting in increased muscle strength and mass, and endurance. However, the evidence is mixed. One study did show that 300 milligrams of Andro increased testosterone levels in men, though it found the effect short-lived—no more than three hours—because testosterone breaks down quickly in the body, making high frequent dos- ing necessary for sustained results. But another study that measured blood levels of testosterone and muscle strength and mass concluded that 300 milligrams of Andro did not boost testosterone levels in males or produce the muscle-building results that promoters promise.

Both research teams agreed, however, on one little- advertised effect: Regardless of its impact on testosterone, Androstenedione taken by men is converted into estradiol, a powerful female hormone. Both studies showed an increase in blood estrogen levels in the men who took Andro. This may account for several unwelcome side effects, including breast enlargement and lowered “good cholesterol” in some Andro users, in addition to an increased risk of liver problems and pancreatic cancer.

Other questions loom over the safety and efficacy of Androstenedione. Doctors don’t know whether taking excessive amounts of the supplement orally interferes with the production or effects of naturally occurring testosterone. In addition, there’s concern about the quality, purity, and stability of over-the-counter Androstenedione, since dietary supplements are largely unregulated.

Avoid if . . .

Women and children under the age of 18 should not take Androstenedione. Substances that work like steroids are known to stunt growth in children, and women may develop decreased breast size, deepened voice, facial hair growth, and menstrual irregularities. Men should avoid Andro if they have prostate cancer or an elevated PSA (prostate-specific androgen) level. Increased testosterone levels are associated with a greater risk of this cancer. Do not take Andro if you have a family history of any hormone-related cancer.

Copyright 2001 by Physicians' Desk Reference
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