You've heard about them, have probably used them, and have even recommended them to friends or family. But how much do you really know about dietary supplements?
Yes, some can be beneficial to your health, but taking supplements can also involve health risks. Read on for important information for you and your family about dietary supplements.
A. Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, and other less familiar substances — such as herbals, botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes. Dietary supplements are also marketed in forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps and sprays. While some dietary supplements are fairly well understood, others need further study.
A. Some supplements may help to assure that you get an adequate dietary intake of essential nutrients. However, supplements should not replace the variety of foods that are important to a healthful diet — so, be sure you eat a variety of foods as well.
Unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases. That means supplements should not make claims, such as "reduces arthritic pain" or "treats heart disease." Claims like these can only legitimately be made for drugs, not dietary supplements.
A. Yes. Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects in the body. This could make them unsafe in some situations and hurt or complicate your health. For example, the following actions could lead to harmful — even life-threatening — consequences.
A. Dietary supplements are not approved by the government for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. If the dietary supplement contains a NEW ingredient, that ingredient will be reviewed by FDA (not approved) prior to marketing — but only for safety, not effectiveness.
The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe BEFORE they go to market. Manufacturers are required to produce dietary supplements to minimum quality standards and ensure that they do not contain contaminants or impurities, and are accurately labeled.
Manufacturers are required to report all serious dietary supplement related adverse events or illnesses to FDA as of December 2007.
FDA can take dietary supplements off the market if they are found to be unsafe, adulterated, or if the claims on the products are false and misleading.
A. If you want to know more about the product you are taking, check with the manufacturer or distributor about:
A. Although the benefits of some dietary supplements have been documented, the claims of others may be unproven. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Be a savvy supplement user. Here's how: