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What is a Food Supplement?

In the United States, a food (dietary) supplement is defined under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 as a product taken by the mouth that contains a dietary ingredient that is intended as a supplement to the diet such as whey protein. By virtue of the act, this dietary ingredient could be one or any combination of the following:

  • a vitamin,
  • a mineral,
  • an herb or other botanical,
  • an amino acid,
  • a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake (e.g., enzymes or tissues from organs or glands),
  • a concentrate, such as a meal replacement or energy bar or
  • a metabolite, constituent or extract.

Diet supplements are not regulated in the same manner as drugs. The FDA does not have primary responsibility over their safety. Instead, that role falls to the manufacturer of the supplement itself.

Now, compounds sold under the dietary supplement law cannot make claims about being able to cure diseases. As the FDA states it:

No, a product sold as a dietary supplement and promoted on its label or in labeling* as a treatment, prevention or cure for a specific disease or condition would be considered an unapproved--and thus illegal--drug. To maintain the product's status as a dietary supplement, the label and labeling must be consistent with the provisions in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.

External links

  • Dietary Supplement (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/supplmnt.html) Further information
  • Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/dietsupp.html)
  • Dietary Supplements information (http://www.talkwellness.org/dietary-supplements.html)


Biotin(B7) Folic Acid (B9)
Riboflavin (B2) Thiamine (B1)
Vitamin D Vitamin C
Vitamin K Niacin (B3)
Vitamin E Pyridoxine (B6)
Vitamin A R-panthothenate

Amino Acids

Alanine Arginine Asparagine Aspartic Acid
Cysteine Glutamic Acid Glycine Histidine
Isoleucine Leucine Lysine Methionine
Phenylalanine Proline Serine Tryptophan
Tyrosine Valine

Herbs and Botanicals

A herb (pronounced "urb" in American English and "hurb" in British English) is a plant grown for culinary or medicinal value. Typically, the green, leafy part of the plant is used. General usage differs between culinary herbs and medicinal herbs. A medicinal herb may be a shrub or other woody plant, whereas a culinary herb is a non-woody plant. By contrast, spices are the seeds, berries, bark, root, or other parts of the plant, even leaves in some cases (e.g. bay leaves) and is only a culinary term. Culinary herbs are distinguished from vegetables in that they are used in small quantities and provide flavor rather than substance to food.

Food Phenolics

Phenolic food compounds (also known as aromatic food compounds) occur naturally in all foods: they give the food colour and flavour and help to prevent premature decomposition.


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