Who Takes Dietary Supplements and Why?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements differently than conventional foods. Generally, if a product is intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent diseases, it is considered a drug, even if it is labeled as a dietary supplement. Dietary supplements come in many forms, such as tablets, capsules, soft gels, gel capsules, powders, sticks, gummies and liquids. They can contain vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, enzymes and other ingredients.

Popular supplements include vitamins D and B12; minerals such as calcium and iron; herbs such as echinacea and garlic; and products such as glucosamine, probiotics and fish oils. In the United States, many adults and children take one or more vitamins or other dietary supplements. Nutritional supplements are intended to supplement a healthy diet, not replace it. If you have a balanced diet with a variety of foods, you may not need nutritional supplements.

The marketing, manufacturing, labeling and advertising of dietary supplements are governed by regulations enforced by the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission. It is important to be aware of these regulations when considering taking dietary supplements.

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