We require that the Irish government and EU commission respect and retain our right as consumers to exercise freedom of choice in healthcare.
Specifically we require that our right to access the higher level vitamin and mineral supplements, which have been available in Ireland and elsewhere for the past 40 years, should not be eroded as is currently proposed under the Food Supplements Directive and recommended by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
To help to save our supplements please sign our petition. For more detailed information read our letter.
:: HELP SAVE OUR SUPPLEMENTS ::
The European Union is currently working to set maximum levels for vitamin and mineral supplements on sale in Ireland and throughout the EU. The Irish Government has proposed these should be no higher than RDA levels, i.e. the minimum amount you need to prevent deficiency disease. In other words, the RDA level of vitamin C, being 60mg a day, is enough to prevent scurvy but this measure is virtually useless for supporting your immune system. RDA levels are very much lower than amounts needed to support optimal health.
All our minerals and vitamins will be affected. Try telling somebody suffering from PMT that under the Food Supplements Directive she will only be able to buy 0.02mg vitamin B6 as a tablet instead of the 50 or 100 mg she currently finds useful. Will muscle twitches and migraine be avoided by taking 3mg magnesium instead of the current 150-300mg? How useful can 0.15mg zinc a day possibly be to safeguard, for example, prostate health, if you currently use at least 15mg a day?
Food is the primary source of our nutrients, but there is ample evidence that nutrient levels in foods are decreasing and that our need for extra nutrients is climbing. Modern lifestyle, diet, food processing and stress all contribute to a need for dietary supplementation. Hands up those of you who have eaten 7 (or even 5) helpings of fruit and vegetables every day for the past week!
SAFETY None of the vitamins and minerals currently on sale have caused any serious side effects in 40 years of use in Ireland. Safety is NOT a problem! The food in the average fridge is a far greater hazard. You are significantly more likely to die of a bee sting or by being struck by lightning than to be seriously affected by taking food supplements. There is simply no comparison when you consider the hazards of using painkillers, cigarettes or alcohol which are available in every supermarket and corner shop.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE If the RDA levels for food supplements as proposed are agreed by the EU, your freedom of choice to use safe and effective means to maintain your good health will be clearly violated. Do you object?
IF YOU DO OBJECT, WHAT CAN YOU DO? You can bring pressure to bear on Irish politicians by:
1. Signing the national petition here or in your local health store. 2. Writing to our Minister for Health. 3. Writing to Commissioner Marcos Kyprianou and addressing a copy of that letter to our Minister. 4. Talking and writing to everyone who might be interested in the issue, including local press, friends, work colleagues, politicians, MEPs.
This campaign will last till the autumn by which time we hope to have collected many thousands of signatures and that hundreds of letters will have been written to Minister Harney and Commissioner Kyprianou.
Suggested guidelines for inclusion in letters to Commissioner Kyprianou and the Minister for Health (Please include points most relevant to yourself, particularly no. 6.)
1. Who you are. Whether you use or have used vitamin and mineral supplements (VMS). 2. Why you are writing: new limits for VMS due to be set by the EU over the coming months. Your concern that these may be set at far lower levels than in products that are currently available, and have been on open sale in Ireland for 40 years. 3. Safety. VMS used by you are safe and effective. No health risks. No serious adverse effects ever reported in Ireland. Compare with other products on open sale such as pain killers, tobacco and alcohol and their well known dangers to health. 4. VMS can help maintain good health and shorten hospital queues, in accordance with abundant scientific evidence. 5. Your right to freedom of choice would be grossly infringed if current levels of VMS were removed from open sale. 6. Individual EU Member States such as Ireland should be allowed to retain the flexibility to place on the market products which include higher potency VMS if there is a history of usage in a particular Member State. 7. Ask if Commissioner Kyprianou/our Government can reassure you that they will not be proposing or supporting unacceptably low levels for supplements. 8. Ask for a response.
Commissioner Markos Kyprianou DG Sanco, The European Commission, B-1049 Brussels, Belgium. (If writing to the Commissioner, send a copy of this letter to our Minister for Health with a covering note.)
The Minister for Health and Children, Hawkins House, Dublin 2
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