Dietary supplementation, which I have written about before, is about a $30 billion industry in the U.S., with more than 90,000 products on the market. Recent national surveys have found that 52 percent of adults reported use of at least one product and 10 percent reported use of four or more products. Vitamins and minerals are among the most popular supplements and are taken by about 45 percent of adults to maintain health and prevent illness. Despite this enthusiasm, most studies of vitamin and mineral supplements have not demonstrated clear benefits for prevention of diseases that are not related to nutritional deficiencies. Indeed, some studies have found that taking these supplements in amounts that exceed the recommended dietary

In December 1993, the FDA granted approval of the use of gabapentin, then sold under the brand name Neurontin, for the treatment of partial seizures. Today, largely thanks to off-label uses of the drug, gabapentin has become the seventh most commonly prescribed medication in the United States. Off-label use of a drug is using it to treat a condition despite that use being unapproved by the FDA. While not specifically illegal, off-label use of medications may be unethical and, in some cases

Older adults tend to have multiple illnesses and therefore take more drugs, but polypharmacy (taking multiple medications) increases the risk of a poor outcome. The more medications a person takes, the higher the risk becomes of adverse drug reactions, nonadherence, financial burden, drug-drug interactions, and worse outcomes. From 1999 to 2011, estimates of the prevalence of polypharmacy rose from eight to 15 percent. One of the causes of this problem is that medications started in late middle

Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that hold bones in place. Some parts of the body have multiple ligaments, for example the human hand. The hand has eight small bones held in place by multiple ligaments, similar to the ankle. A sprain is simply an injury that causes a ligament to tear, causing pain, bleeding, and swelling. But sometimes, in response to a sudden, strong movement or force, a ligament might be forced out of place. This is called subluxation. Similar to a dislocation, where a

The knee joint is a frequent source of pain. The knee is composed of the thighbone, or femur, and the tibia, which is the shinbone, and the fibula, which is the smaller of the two lower leg bones and is behind the tibia. The kneecap is medically known as the patella. The patella tracks up and down over the joint as the knee bends and is held in place by the quadriceps tendon on top, which connects to the anterior thigh muscle, or quadriceps muscle, and the patellar ligament below, which anchors

The human kidney is a remarkable organ. While I couldn’t hope to cover all aspects of kidney function in a short column like this, I thought an overview might be of interest. Most humans have two kidneys, bean-shaped organs about the size of an adult fist, located in the mid back behind the stomach. Their basic function is to keep the composition of the blood balanced to maintain good health. They filter water and toxins (i.e. natural toxins like urea, some drugs and medications, and some

The thyroid gland is located in the anterior mid-neck. The thyroid is the control center for the entire endocrine system. The gland releases mostly thyroxine, known as T4, and small amounts of triiodothyronine, or T3. Iodine is necessary for production of thyroid hormone. In the western world, the most common source of dietary iodine is iodized salt. Low levels of dietary iodine can cause the thyroid to become enlarged, a condition called goiter. Lack of iodine in infants causes severe mental

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