Dietary supplements are some of the hottest selling items available today. More than half of the United States adult population use dietary supplements.
The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act set up a new framework for FDA regulation of dietary supplements as well as setting up an office in the National Institutes of Health to coordinate research. The law requires manufacturers to provide a product label detailing the ingredients.
The FDA's requirement for pre-market review of dietary supplements is less than that over other products it regulates such as drugs and many additives used in conventional foods. Consumers and manufacturers have the responsibility for checking the safety of dietary supplements and determining the truthfulness of label claims.
How can you identify a supplement?
What are the common forms?
Where can you purchase?
What role does the FDA play?
The one thing dietary supplements are not is “drugs. " Here is where the major difference lies between dietary supplements and drugs. Drugs must undergo clinical studies to determine effectiveness, safety, possible interactions with other substances, and appropriate dosages. The FDA must review the data and authorize the drugs’ use before they go onto the market. The FDA does not authorize or test dietary supplements.
Fraudulent products are products that don't do what they say; they can or don't contain ingredients they say they contain, and can be a waste of consumers’ money. They may also cause physical harm.
Identifying Fraudulent Products
Possible indicators of fraud may include:
Economic fraud is when the manufacturer substitutes part or all of a product with an inferior, cheaper ingredient and then passes the fake product as the real thing at a lower cost. Consumers should avoid products sold for considerably less money than competing brands. It the product is too cheap, it is probably not what it is supposed to be.
The growing market for dietary supplements in a less restrictive regulatory environment creates potential for them to be prone to quality-control problems.
Consumer protection for quality control includes:
If you use dietary supplements be sure to always read product labels, follow the directions, and be aware of all warnings. If you suffer a serious harmful effect or illness that may be related to the supplement, you should call a doctor or other health-care provider. He or she can report the problem to FDA MedWatch. Their number is 1-800-FDA-1088 or goes directly to the web site of the FDA MedWatch and makes the report. Patient names are kept confidential. You can also follow the same procedure for reporting an adverse reaction. To file a report, a consumer will be asked to provide:
Consumers should always report the problem to the manufacturer or distributor of the product. You can find this information listed on the product's label.
For more sources for additional information on dietary supplements follow the link in the resource box of this article.
Source: Kurtzweil P. An FDA guide to dietary supplements. . FDA Consumer [serial online]. September 1998;32(5):28. Available from: Health Source - Consumer Edition, Ipswich, MA. Accessed July 24, 2008.
Written by: Connie Limon Learn more about dietary supplements at http://smalldogs2.com/DietarySupplements
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