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Reference Guide Broadens in Scope

April 09, 2001

Long a mainstream drug reference for doctors and consumers alike, the venerable Physician's Desk Reference has gone alternative. Sort of.

PDR for Nutritional Supplements ventures beyond prescription and over-the-counter medications into the often murky world of minerals, amino acids and other substances consumers are gobbling up at an unprecedented rate. But these supplements, be they "miracle" cures, immune system boosters or performance enhancers, are given the same even-handed treatment for which PDR has long been known.

Creatine, for example, which is popular among athletes, gets several pages (a typical amount for such a supplement). This amino acid "may enhance performance in a limited number of high-intensity, short-term physical activities," the book says, "but . . . no ergogenic effect has been convincingly demonstrated outside of laboratory settings."

The book even tells how this and other supplements work, suggests dosages and even warns about side effects and interactions.

Such a rational approach to a hyperbole-prone business is just what many people have been waiting for--including doctors.

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