Nutritional Supplements Guidelines


People everywhere are intrigued by nutritional supplements. You can find them virtually everywhere, in your grocery store, pharmacy, or local health food store.

Supplement ads fill our email boxes and populate the Internet. It helps to know what we are talking about when we refer to supplements.

The one thing everyone wants to know is is there any benefits to taking nutritional supplements (also called dietary supplements).

Congress passed a law in 1994 titled The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, this act defines a dietary supplement as a product, other than tobacco, that is intended to supplement the diet, contain one or more dietary ingredients, is intended to be taken by mouth either in pill, liquid, capsule or tablet form and they are labeled on the front of their container as a dietary supplement.

That sounds like an all encompassing and impressive definition.

Do you know what dietary ingredients are?

Vitamins, minerals, herbs and other botanicals and amino acids are all considered dietary ingredients. By law, the companies that manufacture supplements may not claim that they prevent, treat or cure any diseases. In other words they cannot say that their product will “cure heart disease” or “help you loose weight”.

An educated consumer would want to know who is keeping track of these companies. The answer to that would be the FDA, in a way.

The Food and Drug Administration does not apply the strict guidelines that it imposes on prescribed medications and food, onto nutritional supplements.

Any product that was sold in the US prior to October of 1994 is not required to be reviewed by the FDA. They figure that these supplements are safe for human use based on their history.

For any new dietary supplement that is being sold in the US after October 1994, the manufacturer must let the FDA know and provide to them information on how they determined that reasonable evidence is present for safe human use of the product. The FDA can then decide if they will allow the new ingredient or remove old ingredients for safety reasons.

Know that this does not mean that the manufacturer of nutritional supplements have to prove they are effective or safe; they are just prohibited from selling any product that is unsafe.

This leaves a lot of people to wonder about the ephedra in dietary supplements and the side effects it caused. Sometimes it takes time for that to happen. Once a nutritional supplement is on the market the FDA must prove that it is unsafe in order to remove it from the marketplaces.

We know what supplements are and how they are regulated, but why are people taking them. Surveys suggest that the majority of people that take one form or another of a dietary supplement take it to feel healthy; they believe that the supplements are good for them.

So are they beneficial to use? The most accurate answer to give is; yes, depending on the supplement.

Studies upon studies have shown that pregnant women who take folic acid supplements and consume foods that contain folic acid just prior to conception and immediately after conception have had a significant decrease in neural tube defects in their infants.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of Folate, and it is necessary to generate and maintain new cells in our bodies. The use of Echinacea has long been used to help adults avoid the common cold. While the different sides of this debate are still arguing, there have been no scientific studies done to show the success of the use of Echinacea.

Calcium is vital to our good health and it is a dietary supplement. Calcium is needed for bone growth and protection. Calcium is also important to healthy heart function and there are studies under way currently showing that an increase calcium intake may help decrease blood pressure.

The use of Garlic has also been shown to help lower blood cholesterol, help decrease blood clots and it may help decrease instances of some cancers.

Green Tea is another nutritional supplement that has been shown to have medical benefits. Green Tea is used to prevent and treat a variety of cancers and it has been shown to improve mental alertness, aid in weight loss, lowered cholesterol levels and helps to protect the skin against sun damage. Green tea also has several scientific studies to back up those claims.

There is an exhaustive list of nutritional supplements and what they are used for and whether or not there is any scientific evidence to back up the claims.

Are they beneficial, yes? Can they be harmful, yes? So talk to your doctor before you start taking any nutritional supplements, and tell your doctor is you are taking them when he is trying to adjust any current medications are add new ones. Nutritional supplements can affect the way your body processes medications and they can have an adverse effect on some medical conditions.

Now you know what a nutritional supplement is, how it is regulated, and that there are benefits.

There is no substitute for eating a wide variety of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, at least 7-13 servings every day. But if you're like most people, you don't eat enough fruits or vegetables or enough variety. And those fruits and vegetables that we do eat tend to be over processed, over-cooked, or too far removed from the field, and thus lack much of the nutrition provided by fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.

In order to help people get the health benefits of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains without actually eating them, whole food nutritional supplements are becoming increasingly popular. They have become a simple, convenient, and inexpensive way to add more nutrition from fruits and vegetables to your diet, every day.


Much more than nutritional supplements discussed back at the home page





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