Vitamins and Health Supplements
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Ms Joan Pereira
MP for Tanjong Pagar
Question No. 1827
To ask the Minister for Health with the upward trend in consumption of vitamins and health supplements (a) whether any study been done to determine if Singaporeans need such products to supplement their diets; (b) whether the Ministry will conduct a campaign to educate the public on the risk and benefit of consuming such products; and (c) over the past five years, how many of such products have been removed from the market arising from routine sample checks.
1 Most Singaporeans can meet the Recommended Dietary Allowances for key nutrients, such as dietary fibre, iron, calcium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C from their usual dietary intake. Certain groups of people may be at risk of deficiencies, such as pregnant women, and those with restricted diets or certain medical conditions and they can benefit from some dietary supplements.
2 The best way for most of us to get the nutrients we need is to eat a balanced diet of a variety of foods. This includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, sufficient grains as well as dairy and non-dairy sources of protein, and keeping food and drinks high in fat and sugar to the minimum. Health supplements cannot and should not replace a balanced diet. Supplements should not be used to treat or cure diseases in lieu of appropriate medical intervention.
3 The Health Promotion Board (HPB) consistently advises the public against self-medicating using health supplements, and to always consult a health professional before taking any health supplements. In addition, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) issues consumer advisories to educate and advise consumers to be more savvy and discerning in their purchase and consumption of health supplements. These are published through media releases, media articles and consumer guides on the HSA and HPB’s Health Hub websites.
4 For products sold locally, HSA administers a post-market surveillance programme to sample and test these products for harmful ingredients, contaminants or adulterants. Over the last 5 years, more than 900 health supplements were tested. Eight products, were found to contain western pharmaceutical drugs or toxic heavy metals, and were removed from the market.
Source: Ministry of Health, Singapore