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The first European survey on consumption of plant food supplements has been published

By 19 de March de 2014November 18th, 2020No Comments
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The first European survey on consumption of plant food supplements has been published

The first European survey on consumption of plant food supplements (PFS) -led and coordinated by researchers at the Fundació per a la Investigació Nutricional (FIN) (Foundation for Nutritional Research) from the Parc Científic de Barcelona in Spain, and whose results have been published in the journal PLOS ONE –(doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092265)– concludes that the evaluation of the consumption of these products, especially at European level, is very complex; they recommend that future national nutrition surveys in Europe collect data on the consumption of plant-derived products in order to facilitate the assessment of their risks and benefits.

The survey was conducted as part of the project «PlantLIBRA» (acronym for “PLANT Food Supplements: Levels of Intake, Benefit and Risk Assessment”), co-financed by the European Commission within the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme. PlantLIBRA is a 4-year project involving 25 partner centres from 4 continents and whose aim is “to promote the safe use of PFS”.

The survey was conducted by 6 partner centres from the 6 European countries in which it was conducted: Finland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. Fieldwork lasted over 15 months, from May 2011 to August 2012. Data were collected from 2359 PFS consumers residing in 24 European cities (4 per country) through a questionnaire of 58 questions completed during personal interviews. Study results have provided data to assess the socio-demographic profile of PFS users, the usage patterns of these products, the actual products consumed and their botanical ingredients.

According to Alicia García-Álvarez –Researcher at FIN and coordinator of the survey-, “the survey was conducted using the same methodology inthe 6 countries, which allows us to compare the data obtained and bring to light information about the consumption of these products that to date was nonexistent or not comparable. We now know for example, that in these countries a wide variety of PFS from a wide variety of manufacturers and distributors is consumed and that the 83.7% of respondents consume only 1 product, and 51.5% of products usually contain a single botanical ingredient.

In addition, Lluís Serra-Majem –Chairman of the FIN, Professor at the IUIBS-ULPGC and CIBER OBN, and responsible for the survey-, explains that “through this survey, 491 different botanical ingredients contained in the PFS consumed have been identified. Global Survey raw data show that the 10 botanical ingredients most frequently consumed in PFS (i.e. by more than 100 consumers) are in descending order: Ginkgo biloba (ginkgo), Oenothera biennis (evening primrose), Cynara scolymus (artichoke), Panax ginseng (ginseng), Aloe vera (aloe), Foeniculum vulgare (fennel), Valeriana officinalis (valerian), Glycine max (soybean), Melissa officinalis (lemon balm), Echinacea purpurea (echinacea) and Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry), this order changes if we analyze each country separately, for example, in Spain the most consumed PFS botanical ingredient is Cynara scolymus (artichoke).

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