Supplements 101

Dietary Supplement Basics

What is a Dietary Supplement ?

A dietary supplement is a product intended for ingestion that contains a “dietary ingredient” intended to add further nutritional value to (supplement) the diet. A “dietary ingredient” may be one, or any combination, of the following substances:

a vitamin
a mineral
an herb or other botanical
an amino acid
a dietary substance for use by people to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake
a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, or extract
Dietary supplements may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids, or powders. Some dietary supplements can help ensure that you get an adequate dietary intake of essential nutrients; others may help you reduce your risk of disease.

What is The Difference Between a Dietary Supplement and a Food ?

Conventional foods are foods that are not dietary supplements. A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that is intended to supplement the diet and that contains one or more “dietary ingredients.” The “dietary ingredients” in these products may include

herbs or other botanicals
amino acids
other substances found in the human diet, such as enzymes
Dietary supplements must be labeled as such and must not be represented for use as a conventional food or as the sole item of a meal or the diet. One way to distinguish dietary supplements from conventional foods is by looking at the nutrition information on the label of the product. Conventional foods must have a “Nutrition Facts” panel on their labels, but dietary supplements must have a “Supplement Facts” panel.

Are dietary supplements approved by FDA?

Dietary supplement manufacturers and distributors are not required to obtain approval from FDA before marketing dietary supplements. Before a firm markets any dietary supplement, the firm is responsible for ensuring that:

the products it manufactures or distributes are safe
any claims made about the products are not false or misleading
the products comply with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and FDA regulations in all other respects