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July 3rd, 2021

Top Facts You Need to Know About Dietary Supplements

You’ve heard about them, may have used them, and may have even recommended them to friends or family. We’re talking about dietary supplements!

Dietary supplements can contain minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and many other ingredients. Dietary supplements come in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, gummies, and powders, as well as drinks and energy bars.

Before making decisions about whether to take a supplement, talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you achieve a balance between the foods and nutrients you need. Though many supplements are beneficial to your health, evidence varies widely, and it’s essential to know which can benefit your health and which may be harmful.


Some supplements can help assure that you get enough of the vital substances the body needs to function; others may help reduce the risk of any disease. However, supplements should not replace complete meals. Meals are necessary for a healthful diet, so, be sure you eat a variety of foods as well.

Unlike drugs, supplements are not permitted to be marketed to treat, diagnose, preventing, or cure diseases. That means they should not make claims, such as “lowers high cholesterol” or “treats heart disease.” Claims like these cannot be legitimately made for dietary supplements.


Some dietary supplements can help you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients if you don’t eat a nutritious variety of foods. However, supplements can’t take the place of the variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet. To learn more about what makes a healthy diet, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans External link disclaimer and MyPlateexternal link disclaimer are good sources of information. Some dietary supplements can improve overall health and help manage some health conditions. 

Like, calcium and vitamin D keep our bones strong and reduce bone loss, folic acid decreases the risk of certain birth defects, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils might help some people with heart disease, to name a few. Many other supplements need more study to determine if they have value.


“Whether in pill, powder or liquid form, the goal of dietary supplements is often the same: to supplement your diet to get enough nutrients and enhance health,” explains Jeffrey Millstein, MD, a physician at Penn Internal Medicine Woodbury Heights.

They contain at least one dietary ingredient, such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, or enzymes. Some of the most popular supplements come in a multivitamin, but they can also be purchased as a standalone supplement.

Some common dietary supplements include Calcium, Fish oil, Echinacea, Ginseng, Garlic, Vitamin D, St. John’s wort, Green tea.


The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe before they go to market. FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness BEFORE they are marketed. 

If the dietary supplement contains a new ingredient, manufacturers must notify FDA about that ingredient before marketing. However, the notification will only be reviewed by FDA (not approved) and only for safety, not effectiveness. Manufacturers are required to produce dietary supplements in a quality manner and ensure that they do not contain contaminants or impurities, and are accurately labeled according to Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) and labeling regulations.

Dietary Supplements can be beneficial to your health but taking supplements can also involve health risks.