HEALTH

ISAPP unveils five criteria for consumers to consider in choosing probiotics

BY Michael Johnsen

DAVIS, Calif. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics on Wednesday unveiled five key criteria that consumers should consider when selecting a probiotic product — strain specificity, clinical proof, packaging and the quality and quantity of probiotics in a product.

Titled the “Ps and Qs of Probiotics,” these criteria were developed to help consumers select credible, effective probiotic products in a crowded market. “These new guidelines set a high standard that few probiotic products currently on the market can meet,” stated Susan Abeln, principal scientist, Procter & Gamble research and development. P&G markets the probiotic Align.

The new guidelines, however, appear more geared toward healthcare professionals than consumers. For example, ISAPP suggests that not all probiotics are created equal: “Probiotics within the same genus (or group), such as Bifidobacterium, do not necessarily provide the same benefits. A probiotic is defined by its genus (e.g. Lactobacillus), species (e.g. rhamnosus) and strain designation (often a combination of letters or numbers). The names sound complicated, but they are important to connecting the specific probiotic strain to the strain’s published scientific literature.” Literature that such healthcare professionals as pharmacists and retail clinicians may have a greater degree of familiarity with, as compared with consumers.

In fact, the ISAPP identifies the pharmacist as a valuable resource to help consumers sort through complicated research. “Make certain that product claims of health benefits are based on sound research done on the particular probiotic,” the ISAPP suggests. Check product Web sites to see study results. Your pharmacist or healthcare provider should be able to help you sort through the scientific language.”

To help consumers navigate the aisles in search of beneficial probiotic products, ISAPP suggested consumers look for some key information on the label. For example, the strain of probiotic, along with information on colony forming units, idenitifies how many living microorganisms are in each serving. However, ISAPP cautions consumers that more CFU does not necessarily equate to a better probiotic. For that they need to double back and check the strain and CFU against the appropriate clinical trial — some probiotics deliver benefits with as few as 50 million CFU.

Consumers also should look to the label to identify suggested serving size and what health benefits will be realized through consuming the strain identified on the packaging. Information on proper storage conditions is important as well — storing some probiotic products after opening, even at room temperature, can render the strains ineffective. Packaging also should contain information on expiration dates, ISAPP noted.

ISAPP also suggested that responsible manufacturers will post corporate contact information on their product lableling. “Some products labeled ‘probiotic’ do not have clinically validated strains or levels in the product,” ISAPP noted. “Although the scientific definition of probiotic stipulates that products be clinically evaluated, not all manufacturers abide by that.”

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CVS/pharmacy promotes awareness of heart disease for American Heart Health Month

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. In recognition of American Heart Health Month, CVS/pharmacy will be educating patients about heart health and preventing heart disease, as well as offering money-saving specials on many heart health-related products in February.

“The term ‘heart disease’ covers a long list of conditions related to the function of the heart, so it is important for patients to educate themselves on heart disease prevention and treatment,” stated Troyen Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., EPV and CMO for CVS Caremark. “We encourage our patients to speak to their pharmacist about medication therapies, prescription or over-the-counter, that they are taking related to their heart health, and to visit one of our in-store MinuteClinic locations for a health screening.” 

In collaboration with The Heart Truth, a national awareness campaign about heart disease sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, CVS/pharmacy has created a free educational resource booklet. The booklet, titled “Your Smart Guide to a Healthy Heart,” is available at all CVS stores nationwide. In addition to information on heart disease symptoms, risk factors and healthy lifestyle tips, the booklet features money-saving offers through the CVS ExtraCare loyalty card program on OTC medications, healthy food items and diabetes monitoring products. 

In addition to these resources, CVS pharmacists are available to counsel patients. There are also about 500 CVS stores that have MinuteClinic retail-based health care clinics where nurse practitioners are available to check patients’ blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

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Survey reveals preference for fish oil supplements, multivitamins

BY Michael Johnsen

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y Among people who use dietary supplements, fish oil supplements are nearly as popular as multivitamins, according to a recent survey released Tuesday by ConsumerLab.com, which also publishes test reports on supplements.

The survey is based on responses collected in November from 6,000 supplement users who receive the company’s e-newsletter. 

“We conduct the annual survey to help direct our lab testing toward products of greatest interest to our subscribers; but the survey also yields unparalleled insight into the preferences of people who use supplements and nutritional products,” stated Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com.   

Among the survey’s key findings: 

•  Multivitamins were used by 73.8% of all respondents, followed in popularity by fish oil (71.6%), calcium (55.3%) and CoQ10 (50.9%) supplements.  Among people using 10 or more supplements each day, use of fish oil (84.8%) exceeded that of multivitamins (75.5%), and use of CoQ10 (78.9%) exceeded that of calcium (67.6%). 

•  Use of most supplements increased with age, while use of multivitamins declined slightly. Dramatic increases with age were seen with vitamin D (use increased from 21% among those under age 35 to 47.4% among those 65 years and older) and CoQ10 (use increased from 28.8% to 60.1% for the two age groups, respectively). 

Ratings were given for 1,087 brands and 380 merchants. Of the brands and merchants that received at least 100 consumer ratings, the following received the highest overall satisfaction ratings within their market segments. 

Top-rated Supplement Brands:•        Catalogue/Internet Brand: Puritan’s Pride•        Direct Selling (MLM) Brand: Nutrilite•        Discount/Warehouse Brand: Member’s Mark (Sam’s Club)•        Grocery Store Brand: Equate (Albertson’s)•        Healthcare Practitioner Brand: Pure Encapsulations•        Health Food Store Brand: Barlean’s•        Mass Market Brand: Nature Made•        Pharmacy Brand: CVS•        Vitamin Store Brand: Vitamin World 

Top-rated Supplement Merchants: •        Catalogue/Internet: Puritan’s Pride •        Direct Sales (MLM): Nutrilite •        Grocery Store: Trader Joe’s •        Mass Market: Target •        Online Retailer: iherb.com •        Pharmacy: Walgreens •        Vitamin Store: Vitamin World •        Warehouse Store: Costco  

KelloggsDRSNhttp://www.centerstoregrowth.com

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