NPNZ Response to The New Zealand Listener

Pamela Stirling
Editor
NZ Listener
Auckland
Dear Ed

Sally Blundell’s story “The vital vitamin question” in the latest issue painted a very dim view of the need for supplementation.

Unfortunately, not all diets are created equally.

While the best way to get vitamins and minerals is through your food, given our modern diet and lifestyles, many people are lacking in essential nutrients and need supplementation to maintain good health.

Some nutrients such as selenium are not even accessible through diet due to the very low levels of the mineral in New Zealand soil.

Supplements are crucial for maintaining good health in some situations. For instance vegetarians and vegans are generally lacking in Vitamin B12 (essential for normal brain and nervous system functioning and for the formation of blood) because it is only found in animal products.

Iron supplementation is highly recommended for the treatment of anaemia. Older people may require more nutrients because of a reduced physiological ability to absorb them. And we already know that more than one third of New Zealanders are either deficient in Vitamin D or below recommended levels because they are not getting sufficient sunlight. Taking folic acid supplements before conception and during early pregnancy is recommended by the Ministry of Health and Omega 3 supplements are in fact recommended by the American Heart Association to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease which is one of New Zealand’s most prolific killers.

Paul Offit appears to be deliberately trying to be controversial to sell books and for every negative claim he makes there is a wealth of scientific evidence to suggest the opposite. He seems to ignore the growing body of international evidence which continually proves the therapeutic benefits of many dietary supplements.

New Zealand’s leading supplements manufacturers base their products on comprehensive research and, where possible, clinical trials. When purchasing a recognised brand, consumers can be confident that the products are safe and what’s on the label is actually in the bottle.

Reasonable use of supplements has no detrimental effect and people who take supplements should be wary of sensationalist media reports which attempt to undermine the advice of health care professionals.
Taking excessive amounts of any substance, whether it is a prescription-controlled drug or a vitamin supplement inevitably carries with it a degree of risk, so we encourage people to read labels thoroughly and consult with a health professional.
While most of Natural Products New Zealand’s (NPNZ) members (which comprise 80% of the industry) already manufacture to stringent international standards NPNZ welcomes the NHSP Bill and has been working with Government to expedite the process.

In an ideal world, we would all receive sufficient nutrients from our diet but supplementation has, and will continue to, provide relief from a range of health issues and is essential for optimum levels of health.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Alison Quesnel

Executive Director