Frequently Asked Questions
What are supplements?
A nutritional or dietary supplement (or just plain supplement), as defined by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, is "a product (other than tobacco) that is intended to supplement the diet and that contains one or more of the following: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, or any combination of the above ingredients," and can be taken in tablet, capsule, powder, or liquid form.
Why take supplements?
Supplements have been used to treat a wide variety of conditions, providing/supplementing the nutrients that our own body is not capable to synthesizing. Selected supplements Individuals affected by chronic conditions such as HIV, hepatitis C, and cancer, the body’s natural defense mechanisms come under attack; supplements can help to restore and rebuild the immune system, offsetting the effects of both the condition itself and the (potential) problems caused by the medications used to treat them.
Are supplements considered "medicine"?
Supplements are not medicines and they do not require FDA approval however, consumers should consider safety, quality and manufacturing practices of the retailer when purchasing dietary supplements.
Are supplements "safe"?
While supplements are regulated less stringently than prescription medications and over the counter drugs, they have been evaluated for safety, and many (mainly herbal supplements) have been used safely for centuries.
Prior to use of any supplements it is recommended that you consult with your healthcare provider especially if you are under the care of a doctor for a health issue.
Of course, doing your own “homework” is also encouraged. Always make sure to read material that are evidence-based and are offered through reputable health information websites (sites that do not have ads from other entities). Be sure to bring any notes or printouts from your research to share with your healthcare provider. That way, you’ll both be literally on the same page.
A Note About Identity, Purity and Potency
- Safety is also a matter of product quality: Is the product what it claims to be on the label (that is, is it really fish oil)? This is the product Identity.
- Does the product contain any unwanted contaminants like heavy metals, insect parts, and rodent droppings? All foods and medicinal products face these issues of Purity.
- And finally, does it have as much of the claimed amount of a substance? For example, if it says 100 mg of niacin, does it have that amount? This is the product’s Potency.
Who tests supplements?
Manufacturers of dietary supplement products are required to use “Good Manufacturing Practices” (GMPs) and are solely responsible for their content. The manufacturer is also responsible for ensuring that the “Supplement Facts” label and ingredient list are accurate, that the dietary ingredients are safe, and that the content matches the amount declared on the label.
What if I decide to start taking supplements?
Before you begin taking any supplements, consult with your healthcare provider(s) and let them know exactly what you are planning on taking to manage your health. If you should experience any adverse side effects after beginning use, discontinue use immediately and contact your physician.