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NIH to host conference on dietary supplement use in the elderly

The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) will host a conference January 14-15, 2003 to present current research about dietary supplement use by the elderly in U.S. with the goal of developing a focused research program in this area. The conference will be held at the Natcher Conference Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dietary supplements encompass a wide range of products, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs and other botanicals, as well as a dietary substance for use to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake. The amount of scientific data available on safety and efficacy of dietary supplements varies enormously, ranging from folklore to facts. For some supplements, recommended levels for the elderly have been established through extensive research and published reports, but for others, serious negative health consequences can occur, especially in relation to interactions with prescription medications.

This conference will address specifically:

-- Characteristics of age-related changes in physiology and metabolism as they relate to dietary supplements use.

-- Data on dietary supplements use: What segments of the elderly population are using supplements? Which supplements are being used? Under what circumstances are they being used?

-- Identification of differences reflective of age-related changes that affect physiological functions and bioavailability of nutrients and other bioactive substances, combined with factors that influence behavior (development of attitudes and beliefs).

-- Issues and data gaps related to supplement use in the elderly, such as efficacy, safety, and various types of interactions (i.e., with prescription drugs, over-the- counter medications, surgical procedures, disease states, etc.)

-- Evaluation of current justifications for use.

Pre-registration is required and there is a fee to attend. Members of the media who wish to attend should contact Kelli Marciel at (301) 496-4819 or marcielk@od.nih.gov.

The Office of Dietary Supplements is part of the Office of the Director, a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.