Newsbriefs: Supplement Risks; Herbs

Supplement Risks May Outweigh Benefits

Too little calcium and vitamin D raise the risk for the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, which raises fracture risk. However, the calcium supplements many postmenopausal women take to boost bone strength have been linked to a higher risk for heart attack and stroke, according to recent research (Osteoporosis International, February 2016). The data suggested that if 100,000 65-year-old women take 1,000 mg calcium every day, 5,890 hip fractures and 3,820 other fractures would be prevented—but as many as 5,917 heart attacks and 4,373 strokes could result. Discuss with your doctor whether you are at high risk for fractures, and should be taking a calcium supplement.

Herbs May Boost Mood and Memory

Two new studies suggest that certain herbs may benefit mood and memory in adults age 65 and older. For the first study, 180 volunteers had standard cognition tests before consuming either chamomile or peppermint tea. The peppermint tea improved long-term memory, working memory, and alertness, while chamomile had a calming effect. In the second study, 150 volunteers were placed in rooms that had been scented with rosemary and lavender essential oils, or a control room with no scent. In mood and memory tests, participants who had been in the rosemary-scented room had memory test scores 15 percent higher than those who had been in the room with no aroma. They were also more alert. Those who spent time in the lavender-scented room displayed significantly increased calmness and contentedness.
(British Psychological Society Conference, April 2016)  

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