Briefing: Dietary supplements – the good, the bad and the ineffectual

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Dietary supplements are an increasingly common part of our lives, but should they be?

A sophisticated, multibillion dollar industry exists in supplying dietary supplements. It is not unusual for people to take vitamin and mineral supplements every day, while some rely on caffeine drinks for a daily energy boost and nutrition bars that promise more muscle and less fat.

However, concerns have been sparked recently by the availability of ultra-high caffeine energy drinks, the proliferation of people taking (often large) doses of vitamins/minerals every day, and an industry which appears to have very little legislation to guide its behaviour.

With this in mind, the Science Media Centre is hosting a briefing on dietary supplements, with a panel of experts looking at the state of legislation covering dietary supplements, the science behind different types of supplements, and the extent to which they could help or harm us


Dr Winsome Parnell – Winsome is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago.  She is currently involved in research in the area of children’s nutrition in the Food Security of NZ households. She is also the Nutrition Director of the national Nutrition Survey of New Zealand Adults 2008/09. She has supervised collection of data on dietary supplements (national samples) and co-authored papers describing their use in New Zealand.

Ien Hellemans – Ien is an accredited sports nutritionist, and a registered dietitian.  She was lecturer at the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago until 2008, and was also the nutritionist for Triathlon NZ, the NZ Athens Olympic Team (2004), the Silver Ferns (1996-2001), and NZ Cycling and NZ Swimming (until 2001).

Ursula Egan – Ursula joined the New Zealand Food Safety Authority after a number of years working as a pharmacist both in pharmacies and as a professional adviser.  A major focus for Ursula since joining NZFSA has been the proposed change to the regulation of dietary supplements and the development of  the Supplemented Food Standard.

Part I – Dr Winsome Parnell and Ien Hellemans


Part II – Ursula Egan and questions


Further Information

To follow up on this topic with our speakers or other New Zealand experts, please contact the Science Media Centre on tel: 04 499 5476 or email: