HEALTH

PPVS encourages consumers to maintain wellness with vitamin D

BY Michael Johnsen

HOUSTON — Physician’s Preference, Vitamins and Supplements wellness experts on Wednesday announced an initiative to educate Americans on the importance of obtaining optimal vitamin D status — as the “sunshine vitamin” is coupled with numerous health benefits — by setting the facts straight about sunscreen use and offering quick tips for increasing one’s vitamin D level.

“Vitamin D deficiencies are rampant amidst our nation and could possibly lead to an increase in the most troubling diseases of our time,” PPVS founder and CEO Steven Hotze said. “Ironically, as Americans have become obsessed with lathering on sunscreen to avoid unprotected sun exposure, there has been not only an increase in vitamin D deficiencies, but also the effects of toxic overload on the human body have been compounded.”

Supplementing with vitamin D to reach optimal levels has a wide range of health benefits from the critical role it plays in immune health, even warding off serious diseases including certain types of cancer, to its profound impact on aging and bone health, the group stated. In particular, vitamin D3, which can help fight colds, the flu and allergies and help with inflammation, normally is obtained from the diet or produced by the skin from the ultraviolet energy of the sun.

However, it is not abundant in food. Also, as more people avoid sun exposure and use sunscreen, vitamin D supplementation has been shown to be essential to ensure that the body receives an adequate supply. According to a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, only 10% of the U.S. population has levels that fall within the new recommended range.

PPVS recommended the following steps to assist in optimizing an individual’s vitamin D status:

  • Check vitamin D levels. To identify vitamin D deficiencies, see a physician and check 25-OH vitamin D levels. A level below 30 ng/mL is considered deficient, and many preventive medicine physicians consider 50 ng/mL to 100 ng/mL to be the optimal range;

  • Find the right dose. A safe daily dosage without monitoring vitamin D levels is: 1,000 to 2,000 international units, or IU. However, if a person is vitamin D deficient and needs to take a higher dose, his or her levels need to be monitored regularly by a physician;

  • Look for vitamin D3, not vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 is the most active form and is the same type the skin naturally produces from ultraviolet sunlight; and

  • Educate beyond the basics. “Health & Wellness Solutions” radio program recently welcomed vitamin D expert Marc Sorenson on its show. To learn more about the benefits of vitamin D, the segment is available on podcast.

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Lobbying groups urge Congress to keep diabetes testing supplies accessible to patients

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Pharmacy groups are urging Congress to maintain access to diabetic testing supplies in retail pharmacies for patients with diabetes.

In a letter to Senate and House leadership, the American Pharmacists Association, Food Marketing Institute, National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations stated: "Medicare patients with diabetes rely heavily on local retail pharmacies for prescription medications and diabetes testing supplies. Pharmacists help seniors with diabetes understand the best way to use their diabetes testing equipment and are uniquely positioned to help identify changes in patients’ conditions that may require additional referral and treatment. This coordinated care is vital to seniors with diabetes, helping them manage their disease, navigating through the various options available to them and preventing more costly interventions."

In 2003, Congress created the Medicare Part B competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment. While diabetic testing supplies are considered durable medical equipment under the Medicare program, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services excluded diabetic testing supplies furnished by retail pharmacies from the competitive bidding process to ensure access to these supplies for diabetic patients. APhA, FMI, NACDS and NASPA are urging Congress to maintain the current exclusion in the competitive bidding program for all retail pharmacies providing diabetes testing supplies for Medicare beneficiaries.

"Ending the retail pharmacy exclusion from the competitive bidding program would be a major mistake. This would significantly reduce access to local pharmacies as a source of care. Limiting access to supplies and pharmacist consultation will lead to under-testing, decreased medication adherence, poorer outcomes and increased costs," the letter continued.

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NPA calls on members to oppose Dietary Supplement Labeling Act

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Natural Products Association on Thursday launched a grassroots campaign to oppose the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act, recently introduced in Congress by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and is urging its more than 1,900 members to ask their legislators to oppose the legislation by sending them a letter at NPAinfo.org/Durbin.

According to the association, the bill would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to create a list of ingredients and proprietary blends of ingredients that “could cause potentially serious adverse events.”

"This overly broad language takes the regulation of supplements well beyond the current, effective rules governing the industry,” the NPA stated.

Durbin cited the issue of energy drinks and foods masquerading as dietary supplements when introducing the legislation. NPA executive director and CEO John Gay responded, “The NPA supports actions by the [Food and Drug Administration] to hold accountable those who violate the law, and we’ve done our part through self-regulatory activities to ensure accuracy, quality and safety in the dietary supplement industry. … The U.S. supplement industry has an excellent safety record, and burdensome, duplicative new regulations are not needed."

“It may appear that this proposal has an uphill climb in this Congress, but it is important that we do not let bad bills get any traction," Gay added. "If we do not make our position known, we could find ourselves facing a bill with 30 co-sponsors.”

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