Dietary Supplement Safety
There are many drug administration approvals for dietary supplements but few for therapeutic use. The FDA has supplement companies approved few drugs for treating high cholesterol, arthritis and depression. The FDA does not license nutritional supplements. They are not subject to the same rigorous testing as medications and are not monitored by the same regulatory agencies as drugs are. These products are not regulated by the same regulatory agencies that approve drugs.
There is no legal definition for dietary supplements. Many supplement companies define a supplement as a product that contains one or more ingredients commonly used to treat a medical condition. If they are found to be violating the FDA’s regulations, the company can “compel” them to remove these ingredients from the supplement or face significant penalties. However, there is no legal restriction on supplement companies defining what a supplement is.
Most dietary supplements come in the form of capsules, tablets, powders, gels, oils or liquids. Some manufacturers produce private label supplement products that include vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, amino acids, enzymes and cofactors. In addition, some manufacturers combine different components to form complete nutritional programs.
People taking dietary supplements must be carefully monitored by their healthcare providers. Their healthcare providers should determine whether they are at risk for interactions with any drugs they are taking or if they have an underlying medical condition that would make it unsafe for them to take some of the ingredients in these supplements. People who are at risk include people with liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions. Also, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not advised to take these products.
It is not known whether the FDA regulates these companies. Currently, there are only very limited federal regulations regarding dietary supplements. No current regulations require that companies strictly monitor their manufacturing facilities. Manufacturers are not required to keep records of the drugs they produce. However, these companies are required to conduct studies on the effects of their products on humans. These studies are usually performed by pharmaceutical research laboratories.
A label that states that a dietary supplement is natural does not ensure that a product is safe. You should consult with your healthcare provider to determine the supplement that is right for you. Be careful about the brand you choose. There are many dietary supplements on the market. Before taking any of them, be sure to check the label for ingredients and to consult with your healthcare provider.