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Vol. LXIII, No. 7
April 1, 2011
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ODS App Offers Easy Way to Track Supplement Use

Dr. Changsoo Kang (l) and Dr. Dennis Drayna of NIDCD have been on the hunt for genetic causes of stuttering for years.

Jody Engel, a nutritionist and registered dietitian with the Office of Dietary Supplements

It’s a scene played out time and again in a physician’s office. You’re about to see a new doctor and are asked to fill out the new-patient questionnaire. Among other questions, you’re asked to list all dietary supplements you’re taking. Can’t recall if you still take vitamin E? How much calcium are you consuming? And what’s the name of the multi-vitamin you pop daily?

That may be too much to recall, especially while waiting nervously to meet the doctor for the first time. However, if you had the nifty software known as MyDS, the information would be at your fingertips. What’s MyDS?

It’s a mobile app, compatible with the iPad and iPhone—a unique tool produced by NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), a component of the Office of the NIH Director. Its popularity on the rise, MyDS became available for use through the iTunes store in mid-October. To date, there have been more than 2,000 downloads of MyDS by consumers.

Mobile apps are a hot item in the health technology arena. They are currently available to help manage blood pressure, diabetes, weight management and other health issues. However, this appears to be the first app with a focus on helping consumers keep track of their dietary supplement regimen.

According to Jody Engel, a nutritionist and registered dietitian with ODS, more than half the population of the U.S. take dietary supplements; total sales in 2009 reached $26.9 billion. Experts acknowledge that dietary supplements can interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications, so it’s paramount that health care providers, as well as patients, have this information readily accessible.

MyDS
“There’s an app for that.” MyDS appears to be the first app with a focus on helping consumers keep track of their dietary supplement regimen.

“The real beauty of this product is that with MyDS on your mobile device, you have easy access to this information at the doctor’s office, at the grocery or drug store when you purchase your supplements, wherever, whenever you need it,” said Engel. “You can easily keep track of your supplements including the exact name and dosage.”

The information can then be hand-delivered or emailed to one’s health care provider, helping him or her to avoid interactions between dietary supplements and medications, she added.

The app has four primary purposes or standard features: it lists your dietary supplements; it enables users to share the list with health care providers; it provides access to ODS fact sheets on dietary supplements; and it gives general information on ODS, including a link to its web site. A password protection feature is available and, on the iPhone, the ability to take up to two photos of the dietary supplement label.

Engel noted, “Another key feature it has is the ability to track dietary supplement profiles for multiple people, not only the individual, but also a parent or grandparent who may have difficulty remembering key information about the supplements they consume.”

Currently MyDS works only with the iPad or iPhone, but a new web app version is being developed that will afford compatibility with more devices, offering more users access to this state-of-the-art tool.

To learn more about MyDS, visit http://ods.od.nih.gov/myds, where you can also download the app. Or, you can go to the app store on your device, search for MyDS and proceed from there.

For more information, email ods@nih.gov or phone (301) 435-2920. NIHRecord Icon


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