Dietary supplements address NCDs better than food, says association


REGULAR dietary supplements intake could help reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer, heart diseases and diabetes, according to the Malaysian Dietary Supplement Association (Madsa).

GM James Pereira said for every NCDs, there is at least one or several dietary supplements to reduce the risk and regular intake could be the prevention against these diseases.

“In Malaysia, based on our recent research, among the top six supplements in use here correlate to the top six NCDs that are prevalent in the nation.

“There are some supplements being used for immune system or general health, healthy ageing and beauty, cardiovascular, bone and joint health, meal replacement to fight obesity and weight loss,” he said at the roundtable discussion titled Challenges in Effectively Addressing Malnutrition in Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

According to a report by the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations titled “Realising Healthcare Cost Savings Through More Widespread Use of Dietary Supplements”, the relative risk of an individual aged 55 and above experiencing a heart disease could be reduced by 4.9% via daily consumption of Omega 3 EPA+DHA.

The intake of magnesium could reduce the risk of fracture attributed to reduced bone density.

Pereira said Malaysians are more aware of the importance of supplements, but it is not widespread.

“I think that the reason why our children are becoming more stunted is because of the stunted growth in supplement intake,” he said.

He said lack of awareness, limited options, shortage of incentives to encourage more people to increase their supplement intake and pricing are key challenges which need to be addressed.

He said the ministry should address the stringent registration process of supplements which is costing time and money.

He said certain supplements such as sleeping aid melatonin and herbs and supplement combinations are banned or not readily available in Malaysia or for over the counter sales.

“It’s strange that these things are banned here, but are actually available elsewhere such as Australia, Canada, the US and Europe.

“I think it is a stretch to assume that the governments of those countries are irresponsible towards their citizens,” he said.

“We urge the government to please take away the extra charges on supplements because they become a burden to consumers,” he said.

Currently, less than 30% of the population consume dietary supplements compared to countries like South Korea and Taiwan.

The Malaysian Reserve previously reported that the market size of dietary supplements is estimated at RM2.27 billion.