Beware of cinnamon and coumarin supplements. The Anses alert

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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Anses warns of the risks of consuming supplements with coumarin, a substance found in cinnamon. In high doses there is a risk of liver damage

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New supplement alert launched by the French Medicines Safety Agency. This time Anses has focused attention on food supplements and foods that contain coumarin, a substance that, if consumed in high doses, can damage the liver.

EFSA has set the maximum tolerable daily dose of coumarin which, for an adult weighing 60 kg, is equivalent to less than 4,8 mg per day. A limit that must never be exceeded if you want to avoid incurring possible side effects, in particular liver damage.

To warn of the risks is Anses which recommends strictly adhering to the recommended doses and suggests to people who already suffer from liver diseases to avoid foods rich in cinnamon and even more supplements that contain coumarin, a natural fragrant compound present in some plants such as precisely cinnamon but also tonka bean and sweet clover.

In order to state this, the French agency has assessed the risk associated with the exposure of adults and children to coumarin. The content of this substance in the plants listed above or in their essential oils is very variable and can be used in food supplements without any limit being indicated.

Precisely considering this aspect, Anses has decided to evaluate the dietary exposure of the population to coumarin e the risk of exceeding the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI).

Following the survey, it is estimated that around 40% of adults and 43% of children are exposed to too high doses of coumarin in their diets. This is because this substance is found in various condiments but also in cookies, desserts and sauces.

The risk of exceeding the recommended dose, however, is much higher if you are a large consumer of food supplements containing plants rich in coumarin, in particular Chinese cinnamon. According to Anses, the essential oils present in these supplements are the basis of most of the undesirable effects (16 cases out of 28 analysable) identified by the Nutrivigilance system. The reported disturbances were in particular liver and gastroenterological problems.

Consequently, Anses in its note writes:

“The conditions of use of these products, such as dose or frequency, need to be given special attention to the general population. To ensure their safety in use by consumers, the Agency stresses the need for manufacturers to specify in the composition of food supplements, the botanical identity of the cinnamon and other plants used and their coumarin content ”.

As for consumers most at risk, i.e. those who already have a previous liver disease or take drugs that can cause liver side effects, the Agency advises not to consume foods with a lot of cinnamon or coumarin-based food supplements. .

The need to evaluate the contribution of other possible routes of exposure to coumarin is also stressed. This substance is also present in some cosmetics, fragrances and household products.

Source: Anses

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