Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Additives and Supplements
Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet
Tammy Kliethermes, former Dietetic Intern, Missouri Department of Health, & Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D., former Nutritional Sciences Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
What is a dietary supplement?
- Any product intended to supplement the diet, which contains at least one of these ingredients: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, metabolites or combinations of these ingredients.
- Usually taken in pill, capsule, tablet or liquid form.
- Labeled as “dietary supplement.” Not for use as a meal replacement.
Do I need a dietary supplement?
If any of the below apply to you, ask your physician or registered
dietitian about taking a supplement:
- your busy lifestyle keeps you from eating the recommended number of servings from the food groups (Refer to MyPlate);
- you are on a very low-calorie weight loss diet (1200 calories daily);
- you are elderly and not eating as much as you should;
- you are a strict vegetarian;
- you can't drink milk or eat cheese and yogurt;
- you are a woman of childbearing age who doesn't eat enough fruits, vegetables, beans and grains;
- you are pregnant or lactating.
How are dietary supplements regulated?
Loosely. Under the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act
- Marketers are responsible for making sure that their product is safe, and any claims about their products are true.
- All ingredients must be listed on the label.
- Dietary supplements are not regulated for safety or effectiveness before going to market, and do not need Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval prior to sale.
- FDA monitors safety after the product has been marketed; to file a complaint about a dietary supplement, go to http://www.fda.gov/Food/Dietarysupplements/
- Get nutrients from foods first. Foods contain many helpful compounds that are not present in supplements. Besides, who wants to swallow a pill when you can eat delicious, nutritious foods?
- Because dietary supplements are not tested for safety and effectiveness before going to market, some may not contain the ingredients stated on the label.
For more information:
International Bibliographic Information on Dietary Supplements database: http://ods.od.nih.gov/databases/ibids.html
NIH Facts About Dietary Supplements: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/
Last update: Friday, October 03, 2014