'U' will provide info on supplements

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Presenting the public with clear information on the hazards and benefits of dietary supplements will be the focus of the new Center for Dietary Supplement Safety at the University of Minnesota.

The center will collect and analyze information about possible side effects of the increasingly popular supplements, said toxicologist Rick Kingston, the director and a pharmacy professor. It will also create a consumer Web site.

For people with heart problems and other conditions, those side effects could be dangerous, he said. He hoped the center's work would improve the available information, which is now spotty and conflicting.

"The public is starved for information about dietary supplements and their safety," Kingston said in a university news release. "We want to provide data to answer questions in a more systematic and ongoing basis."


For example, there is some research that suggests that supplements, including ginkgo, can counteract blood thinners prescribed for heart disease. The problem is that no one knows for sure, Kingston said, partly because manufacturers don't have to report on side effects

The center will collect voluntary reports from supplement makers, consumers and other interested parties and will track scientific studies in the field.

Kingston said many herbal supplements have passed the test of time.

"Our belief is that they do have an inherently wide margin of safety," he said. "But we need to have a process to confirm that."

The center will be funded by industry and other grants.

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