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Vitamins and minerals are vital

From Mrs S. Kelly, FRPharmS

I have a lot of respect for Terry Maguire, but he may have confused pharmacists by including a reference to vitamins in his Broad spectrum article about ineffective medicines (PJ, 15 August 2009, p178).

It is beyond doubt that vitamins and minerals are vital for building and maintaining the human body. We should get all we need from a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and, if we did, we would also get fibre and more of our calorie intake from healthy sources.

Sadly, most people consume on average three portions of fruit and vegetables a day instead of the minimum recommendation of five. Some sectors of the population, particularly children and young people, eat none at all. A one-a-day multivitamin is an effective way of ensuring an adequate intake.

The evidence bases for herbal medicines and food supplements are currently under independent review.

The European Food Safety Authority will soon give opinions on health claims and disease risk reduction claims that can be made for vitamins and minerals, and on the target groups who could benefit from taking them over and above those supplementing their diets.

By 2011, all herbals will have to be registered by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency under the traditional herbal medicines regulations. Some herbal medicines have already been approved and the product licence number on the packs is evidence that they meet the necessary standard. The reviews will define and clarify the science in these sectors.

Meanwhile, ahead of the change in the law, companies in the Proprietary Association of Great Britain already send their advertising to us for prepublication vetting and supply evidence for their claims, which is checked by our independent experts. That is why, as PAGB’s chief executive, I can explain and support the industry in the media.

Sheila Kelly

Executive Director

Proprietary Association of Great Britain

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10975778

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