A dietary supplement is intended to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities.
Supplements as generally understood include vitamins, minerals, fibre, fatty acids, or amino acids, among other substances. U.S. authorities define dietary supplements as foods, while elsewhere they may be classified as drugs or other products.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), dietary supplements are products which are not pharmaceutical drugs, food additives like spices or preservatives, or conventional food, and which also meet any of these criteria:
- The product is intended to supplement a person's diet, despite it not being usable as a meal replacement.
- The product is or contains a vitamin, dietary element, herb used for herbalism or botanical used as a medicinal plant, amino acid, any substance which contributes to other food eaten, or any concentrate, metabolite, ingredient, extract, or combination of these things.
- The product is labelled as a dietary supplement.
The intended use of dietary supplements is to ensure that a person gets enough essential nutrients.
Dietary supplements should not be used to treat any disease or as preventive healthcare. An exception to this recommendation is the appropriate use of vitamins.
Dietary supplements are unnecessary if one eats a balanced diet.
Supplements may create harm in several ways, including over-consumption, particularly of minerals and fat-soluble vitamins, which can build up in the body. The products may also cause harm related to their rapid absorption in a short period, quality issues such as contamination, or by adverse interactions with other foods and medications
- Dietary elements
- Herbal elements
- Amino acids and proteins
- Essential fatty acids
- Body building elements