Heard about dietary supplements? Want to know more?
We asked the National Institutes of Health for some of our answers.
We know: All about dietary supplements
What is a dietary supplement?
A dietary supplement, as defined by the government, is a product (other than tobacco) that:
Why do people take dietary supplements?
People take dietary supplements for many different reasons:
Is using supplements considered conventional medicine or complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)?
Some uses of dietary supplements have become part of conventional medicine. For example, scientists have found that the vitamin folic acid prevents certain birth defects, and a regimen of vitamins and zinc can slow the progression of the eye disease age-related macular degeneration. On the other hand, some supplements are considered to be complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) - either the supplement itself or one or more of its uses. An example of a CAM supplement would be an herbal formula that claims to relieve arthritis pain, but has not been proven to do so through scientific studies. An example of a CAM use of a supplement would be taking 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day to prevent or treat a cold, as the use of large amounts of vitamin C for these purposes has not been proven.
If I am interested in using a supplement such as CAM, how can I do so most safely?
Does the Federal Government regulate supplements?