Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Decoding Your Supplement Labels

In June, the New England Journal of Medicine published their perspective on front-of-package nutrition labeling. The authors (Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, and Jeffrey P. Koplan, MD, MPH) expressed their frustration that the sample front-of-package label system developed by the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the Food Marketing Institute (see sample) is much more confusing than the simple traffic-light system (green, yellow, red light) labeling concept used in Britain (see sample).

Reading the perspective, I started thinking about vitamin and supplement labels, and how confusing they are too! For starters, FDA guidelines, in place for our protection as consumers, don’t allow supplement companies to simply “list” on the bottle the benefits of a particular ingredient or formula. Some retailers make the process a little bit easier by organizing supplements by problem (i.e., joint health; digestion; cholesterol), but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. For example, the bottles of omega-3s you find on the shelf aren’t going to tell you how good they are for heart and brain health, as well as being overall inflammation fighters. And, once you’ve figured out that omega-3’s are beneficial, they aren’t going to tell you how much science says we need to consume.

Here are our steps for decoding the front package of a bottle of Omega-3:

• Do not assume that the “1,000 mg” or “1 gram” notation on the front label is relevant – this notation is a marketing notation, and typically means that the capsule size is 1,000 mg – not that the product provides 1,000 mg EPA, DHA and/or ALA. It’s entirely possible that a 1,000 mg capsule may contain as few as 300 mg EPA and DHA, combined.

• Omega-3 fatty acids encompass EPA, DHA and ALA. EPA and DHA are marine based, while ALA is plant based. ALA can’t be directly used by the body, so it is converted into EPA and DHA.
The vast majority of research has been conducted studying the impact of EPA and DHA.

• To compare products and brands, refer to the ingredient panel and add together the amount of EPA, DHA and ALA documented on the ingredient panel. The “ingredient panel” (or nutrition facts panel) is regulated by the FDA – so these are the only numbers that count. This instruction applies to both nutritional supplements and fortified foods. For example, some egg brands with omega-3 simply say there are omega-3’s in the egg, while others will list a specific level for EPA/DHA provided.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adult women consume 1,100 mg of EPA/DHA (total combined) per day, while men should consume 1,600 mg EPA/DHA. Because ALA doesn’t convert in the body easily, women consuming omega-3 fatty acids in the plant-based ALA form should consume 1,300 mg daily, while men should consume 2,700 mg.

Cooper Complete Advanced Omega-3 contains 1,200 mg EPA/DHA in each two softgel serving.

To purchase Cooper Complete multivitamins and supplements, visit the Cooper Store.


Front-of-Package Nutrition Labeling – An Abuse of Trust by the Food Industry?

Sample front-of-package label from the traffic-light system used in Britain

Sample front-of-package label adhering to the Nutrition Keys System Developed by the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the Food Marketing Institute

Dietary Supplement Labeling Guide

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Good Fat, Bad Fat: The Facts about Omega-3

#533 The Lambert Report for 06/23/2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Are you getting the most out of your Flexible Spending Account Plan?

Did you know that Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) funds can be used to purchase multivitamins and dietary supplements? Beginning January 1, 2011, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and drugs, including multivitamins and supplements, now require a prescription to be reimbursed by a FSA. (Other OTC medicines and drugs that now require a prescription include allergy prevention and treatment, analgesics, antacids, cold and flu remedies, migraine relief, skin care and sleeping aids.) In previous years, the prescription from the physician was simply mailed to the FSA plan administrator. Beginning this year, the prescription must be filled by a pharmacy and contain the same information as a prescription for a prescription-only medicine. Here’s how the process works:

1. Prior to the purchase of the multivitamin and/or supplements, the prescription for the item must be presented to the pharmacist.

2. The multivitamin and/or supplement must be dispensed by the pharmacist in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations pertaining to the practice of pharmacy.

3. An Rx number must be assigned.

In Texas and Louisiana, the entire line of Cooper Complete® nutritional supplements is available in all Albertson’s stores, and can be found directly in front of the pharmacy.

For Cooper Complete customers who don’t live near an Albertson’s, we also have a relationship set-up with the independent pharmacy Dougherty’s to fill the prescription and ship the items to you. To make the process as easy as possible, once you have the prescription from your physician please contact me at 800.980.6311 or jsturner@cooperwellness.com and I will coordinate the details of getting the prescription filled. If you are a Cooper Clinic patient, you can also use the coupon you receive during your physical for the purchase.

Thank you.

Jill Turner
VP of Operations
Cooper Concepts, Inc.
800.980.6311 - direct
972.560.3267 - fax

Dougherty’s Pharmacy

Albertson’s LLC
Texas Stores
Louisiana Stores

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cooper Complete Chewable Calcium: This Chewable Is for Adults, Not Children

Calcium is needed by the body to maintain strong bones, along with a healthy heart, muscles and central nervous system. Calcium-rich foods include canned salmon, anchovies, dairy products, broccoli, spinach, kale and Brussels sprouts. Juices, bread, breakfast cereal and tofu are often fortified with calcium.

But most people, especially older adults, require supplements to ensure that they consume enough calcium. And for anyone with reduced stomach acid, taking chewable calcium with meals is recommended.

“Calcium carbonate, a calcium salt, is not well absorbed by people with reduced levels of stomach acid,” said Todd Whitthorne, President of Cooper Concepts, parent of Cooper Complete® in Dallas. “Taking this supplement in chewable form at mealtimes improves absorption because of the stomach acid that's generated to digest food.”

Calcium requirements depend on an individual's gender and age, Whitthorne says. For example, adult women under age 50 are advised to consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, while women 50 to 65 require 1,200 to 1,500 mg per day. Women 50 to 65 who are taking estrogen need 1,200 mg of calcium, and those not using estrogen need 1,500 mg. All women 65 and older should consume 1,500 mg calcium on a daily basis.

Many people drink milk for its calcium, but since one 8-ounce glass typically contains about 300 mg of calcium, you would need to drink three to five cups daily to meet basic calcium requirements, Whitthorne states.

Cooper Complete Chewable Calcium with Vitamin D provides 333 mg calcium – from calcium carbonate – and 133 IU of vitamin D-3 or cholecalciferol. This orange-and-vanilla flavored, chewable tablet is designed to be taken in conjunction with Cooper Complete multivitamin formulations.

As a dietary supplement, adults are advised to take one tablet of Chewable Calcium with a meal or as directed by a physician. “But remember to chew it, rather than swallowing it whole, to ensure the tablet is absorbed,” Whitthorne says.

Chewable calcium carbonate also works as an antacid to relieve heartburn, acid indigestion and upset stomach.

Cooper Complete offers an alternative product that can be taken on an empty stomach. Two tablets of Cooper Complete Calcium Citrate has 500 mg of calcium citrate.

To purchase Cooper Complete supplements, visit the Cooper Store.