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Dietary Supplements Defined E-mail
Written by Jeff behar, MS, MBA   

A dietary supplement  is a preparation intended to supply nutrients, (such as vitamins, minerals, fatty acids or amino acids) that are missing or not consumed in sufficient quantity in a person's diet. Some countries define dietary supplements as foods, whilst in others they are defined as drugs.

In the United States, a dietary supplement is defined under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) as a product that is intended to supplement the diet and contains any of the following dietary ingredients:
  • a vitamin
  • a mineral
  • an herb or other botanical (excluding tobacco) and hormones, such as DHEA, pregnenolone (both steroids) and melatonin.
  • an amino acid
  • a dietary substance for use by people to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake, or
  • a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of any of the above
A dietary supplement in the US must be:
  • intended for ingestion in pill, capsule, tablet, powder or liquid form
  • not represented for use as a conventional food or as the sole item of a meal or diet
  • labeled as a "dietary supplement"

Pursuant to the DSHEA, the Food and Drug Administration regulates dietary supplements as foods, and not as drugs.

Unlike pharmaceutical companies, supplement manufacturers are not required to prove the safety or effectiveness of their products; the FDA can take action only after a dietary supplement has been proven harmful.


 
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