|Description||Feverfew is a member of the botanical family that includes the daisy. It has yellow and white flowers and feathery green leaves. It is primarily the leaves which contain the active ingredient, parthenolide.|
|Function/ Used for||Feverfew has been widely used to prevent the onset of migraines1.
It is thought to prevent the sudden dilation of blood vessels, which is associated with the onset of migraine; however, it does not work to relieve symptoms of a migraine once it has started.
It has also long been used to relieve symptoms of menstrual cramps.
|As a supplement||Feverfew is generally available in a tablet or capsule form, and is often standardised to contain 0.4% parthenolide.
Dosage is 250mg of standardised extract per day for long term use.
|Found in (dietary sources)||N/A|
|Precautions and contraindications||Caution use in those with hypersensitivity to the Asteraceae (Compositae) or Daisy family, i.e. chamomile, ragweed, yarrow, etc.2|
|Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding||Feverfew should not be taken during pregnancy as it may cause contractions of the uterus.
It is also not recommended for breastfeeding women.3
|Interactions e.g. with other medications||Feverfew may inhibit blood clotting; people taking anti-coagulant or anti-platelet (blood thinning) medicines should consult their doctor before use.|
|Adverse effects||Minor abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea has been reported.
Dermatitis, soreness or ulceration of the mouth, and a mild tranquillising effect have also been reported.4
2 Braun & Cohen. Herbs and Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide. Churchill Livingstone, 2005.
3 Mills, S. & Bone, K. Principles and practice of phytotherapy. Churchill Livingstone, 2000.
4. Williamson, E. M. Potter’s Herbal Cyclopaedia. C.W. Daniel Co Ltd. 2003
|Description||Fluoride is a mineral commonly known for its effects on our teeth.|
|Function/ Used for||Fluoride is important to help keep teeth strong and healthy1.|
|Intake||EU NRV: 3.5mg
UK average daily intake: requirements vary depending on age and gender. The UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey lists up-to-date intake requirements and average intakes2.
|As a supplement||Typically found as an ingredient in toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Also, can be found as a supplement for use in certain circumstances; typically, only for those known to have a lack of intake from food and drink and/or exposure to fluoride through dental products.
|Found in (dietary sources)||Fluoride is found in tea, marine fish, fluoridated water, foods and beverages made from fluoridated water, toothpaste and other dental products containing fluoride.
|Deficiency||Although there is no deficiency disease for fluoride, low fluoride intake and/or poor dental hygiene (or brushing with fluoride-free toothpaste) can lead to tooth decay3.|
|Precautions and contraindications||Safe Upper Level (Guidance Level): 7mg/day3|
|Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding||There is no evidence of adverse effects in pregnancy at normal intakes.|
|Interactions e.g. with other medications||Fluoride is not known to have any clinically relevant interactions with medications.|
|Adverse effects||Chronic high intakes can lead to skeletal or tooth fluorosis. Fluorosis of the teeth is much more common and leads to build up of fluoride in dental enamel causing structural and compositional changes (e.g. white mottling, yellow marks and pits on teeth) which does not actually do any harm to the teeth. The much rarer skeletal fluorosis however can lead to bone deformation, stiffness of joints, pain and increased risk of fracture3.|
|References||1 EU Community Register of Nutrition and Health Claims
3 EFSA; Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies on A Request from the Commission Related to the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of Fluoride (2006).
|Description||Folic Acid, known as folate in its natural form, is a synthetic water-soluble vitamin and is part of the B-vitamins group. Folic acid is generally consumed in the form of food supplements or in fortified foods.|
|Function/ Used for||Essential during pregnancy for efficient neural tube development which forms the brain and spinal cord. ‘Neural tube defects’, such as spina bifida, in babies appear to be linked to a ‘metabolic defect’ in folate metabolism in the mother. This means that, even though the mother may have an adequate dietary intake of folic acid, her body cannot use it efficiently. Taking extra folic acid at the time when the neural tube is forming can reduce the chance of the baby having a neural tube defect. However, the neural tube is formed very early during pregnancy – about a month after conception. Women are advised to take folic acid for 12 weeks prior to conception and to continue taking folic acid supplements until the 12th week of pregnancy.
In addition, folic acid is essential for the formation of red blood cells and has been shown to reduce the levels of an amino acid (homocysteine). This reduction may have a protective effect against heart disease.1
Folic Acid also contributes to brain health, immune function as well as helping to reduce tiredness and fatigue.
EU NRV: 200µg
Women of childbearing age (14-49 years) who are planning or who may become pregnant are advised to take a supplement containing 400µg folic acid every day.
UK average daily intake
Requirements vary depending on age and gender. The UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey lists up-to-date intake requirements and average intakes2.
|As a supplement||Available as a single supplement. Also commonly available as part of a multivitamin and mineral formula.
Different multivitamin and minerals products will vary in the percentage NRVs they include. People should always check the label for information about a specific product.
|Found in (dietary sources)||‘Folate’ can be found naturally in yeast extract, wholegrain cereals, liver, brussels sprouts, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, beans, oranges and beer.
Levels of folate are unstable, unless the foods are refrigerated, and can also be destroyed by processing and cooking.
‘Folic acid’ can be sourced from fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals, marmite, bovril and fat spreads.
|Deficiency||Folate deficiency may lead to an increased risk of neural tube defect (spina bifida) in babies.
Folate deficiency may cause macrocytic megaloblastic anaemia (enlarged but fewer red blood cells).5
|Precautions and contraindications||Safe Upper Level: 1000µg/day3|
|Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding||No problems have been reported. Supplements are required during pregnancy and when planning a pregnancy.|
|Interactions e.g. with other medications||Those taking anti-epileptic drugs should seek doctor’s advice. Prolonged use of oral contraceptives may cause folic acid depletion4.
Adequate amounts of all B vitamins are required for optimal functioning. Deficiency or excess of one B vitamin may lead to abnormalities in the metabolism of another. Folic acid may reduce the absorption of zinc.
|Adverse effects||Folic acid is generally considered to be safe even in high doses, but it may lead to convulsions in patients taking anticonvulsants and to neuropathy in patients with pernicious anaemia.5
Some gastrointestinal disturbance has been reported at doses of 15 mg daily. Allergic reactions (shortness of breath, wheezing, fever, erythema, skin rash, itching) have been reported rarely.5
|References||1. NHS Choices. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/vitamins-minerals-supplements-pregnant.aspx#Folic
3. Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals, 2003.
4. Gaby, A. R. A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions. HealthNotes 2006.
5. Mason, P. Dietary Supplements. Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2001. 4.