What are Dietary Supplements?
Dietary Supplements are intended to be used as an alternative to nutrients present in food. In case of deficiency of a particular nutrient, supplements can be taken to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any symptoms caused.
Common supplements include:
- Vitamins (such as multivitamins or individual vitamins like vitamin D and biotin).
- Minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, and iron).
- Botanicals or herbs (such as echinacea and ginger).
- Botanical compounds (such as caffeine and curcumin).
- Amino acids (such as tryptophan and glutamine).
- Live microbials (commonly referred to as “probiotics”).
What Are the Benefits of Dietary Supplements?
Dietary supplements can help you improve or maintain your overall health, and supplements can also help you meet your daily requirements for essential nutrients.
What Are the Risks of Dietary Supplements?
Consultation with a health care professional is a must before consumption of any form of supplement. Many supplements contain ingredients that may interfere with any ongoing treatment or it may cause adverse effects such as allergies, in a particular patient. Furthermore, doing the following may cause toxicities and severe health complications;
- Combine supplements.
- Mix medicines and supplements.
- Take too much of supplements.
- Take supplements instead of medications.
Seek medical advice or care in case you experience any symptoms or adverse effects.
How Are Dietary Supplements Regulated?
As per this Law, even if a product is labeled as a dietary supplement, a product intended to treat, prevent, cure, or alleviate the symptoms of a disease is a drug, and subject to all requirements that apply to drugs.
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) was amended in 1994 by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (often referred to as DSHEA), which defined “dietary supplement” and set out FDA’s authority regarding such products. Under existing law:
- The FDA does NOT have the authority to approve dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness, or to approve their labeling, before the supplements are sold to the public.
- Under the FD&C Act, it is the responsibility of dietary supplement companies to ensure their products meet the safety standards for dietary supplements and are not otherwise in violation of the law.
- Dietary supplement labels are required to have nutrition information in the form of a Supplement Facts label that includes the serving size, the number of servings per container, a listing of all dietary ingredients in the product, and the amount per serving of those ingredients. They also must have a statement on the front of the product identifying it as a “dietary supplement” or similar descriptive term (e.g., “herbal supplement” or “calcium supplement”).