The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) state that dietary supplements can help people improve or maintain their overall health. But they may also come with health risks. Whether you’re a consumer of dietary supplements or it’s your job to inform and educate, it’s important to know the facts before deciding to take any dietary supplement.

Therefore, they launched the initiative, “Supplement Your Knowledge”. It aims to help inform health care professionals, consumers, and educators about dietary supplements.

“Dietary supplements can be valuable to your health but taking some supplements can also involve health risks,” Douglas Stearn, JD, deputy director for regulatory affairs in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement. “These Supplement Your Knowledge resources will help provide consumers and health care professionals with facts to make informed decisions when determining if they want to use or recommend dietary supplements.”

In collaboration with the American Medical Association, publisher of JAMA, the FDA has developed a free continuing medical education program for physicians and other health care professionals about the regulation of dietary supplements, informing patients about their use, and reporting adverse events to the agency. The program includes 3 videos and accompanying educational materials. It is available on the FDA website and the AMA Ed Hub.


The objectives of the program are:
1. Define dietary supplements
2. Describe how dietary supplements are regulated
3. Describe how dietary supplements are labelled and the types of claims permitted
4. Review potential interactions of dietary supplements with other supplements, medications, and laboratory tests
5. Identify adverse events and how to report them to FDA

Even though some parts of the program are quite specific to the US, I think that the initiative is most laudable and an excellent resource for physicians, SCAM practitioners, consumers, and decision-makers to learn more about this important subject.

6 Responses to Dietary supplements can involve risks; thus, reliable information is essential

  • I have yet to discover the legal, scientific or medical definition of a ‘Dietary Supplement’. What exactly determines the difference between an edible food or beverage and a so called Dietary Supplement? And how many dietary supplements have proven to cause serious or fatal harm in recent history compared to prescription drugs and Government Approved ‘vaccines’?
    Consider this example: You buy a pack of fresh or frozen blueberries in your local supermarket which some folks might add to their yogurt or breakfast cereal. But if you go to a health store and purchase say dried blueberry powder with a nutritional list on the packaging confirming there are no additives or preservatives, will those blueberries now be magically transformed into a Dietary Supplement? Your call!

    • What is a dietary supplement?
      As defined by Congress in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which became law in 1994, a dietary supplement is a product (other than tobacco) that

      is intended to supplement the diet;
      contains one or more dietary ingredients (including vitamins; minerals; herbs or other botanicals; amino acids; and other substances) or their constituents;
      is intended to be taken by mouth as a pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid; and
      is labeled on the front panel as being a dietary supplement.
      What is a new dietary ingredient?
      A new dietary ingredient is a dietary ingredient that was not sold in the United States in a dietary supplement before October 15, 1994. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires specific safety informationexternal link disclaimer from a manufacturer intending to market a dietary supplement containing a new dietary ingredient. This information is not required for older dietary supplement ingredients.

      Are dietary supplements different from foods and drugs?
      Although dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA as foods, they are regulated differently from other foods and from drugs. Whether a product is classified as a dietary supplement, conventional food, or drug is based on its intended use. Most often, classification as a dietary supplement is determined by the information that the manufacturer provides on the product label or in accompanying literature, although many food and dietary supplement product labels do not include this information. (

      • …. how many dietary supplements have proven to cause serious or fatal harm in recent history compared to prescription drugs and Government Approved ‘vaccines’?
        Congress definition of a Dietary Supplement, I don’t live in America and don’t recognise their definition – in any event, mentioned on the front panel as a dietary supplement doesn’t provide useful information to the consumer. Is Extra Virgin Olive oil excluded from that definition? I would describe many so called supplements as FOOD COMPLEMENTS which is a more appropriate description. For example, adding salt to certain foods can complement (enhance) the total experience. Would you describe salt (natural or refined) as a Dietary Supplement?

        • how many dietary supplements have proven to be effective compared to prescription drugs and Government Approved ‘vaccines’?

          • Also note the sneaky way how this person lumps prescription drugs (many of which have significant potential to do harm) in with vaccines (which cause virtually no harm).

        • condiment [noun]: a substance such as salt, mustard, or pickle that is used to add flavour to food.

          In physiology, the primary ions of electrolytes are sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, magnesium, hydrogen phosphate, and hydrogen carbonate.

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