A dietary supplement, also known as food supplement or nutritional supplement, is defined as a substance intended to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities.
Supplements as generally understood include vitamins, minerals, fiber, 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. There are more than 50,000 dietary supplements available. More than half of the U.S. adult population (53% - 55%) consume dietary supplements with most common ones being multivitamins.
According to the U.S FDA, dietary supplements are products which are not pharmaceutical drugs, food additives like spices or preservatives, or conventional food, and:
Some countries define dietary supplements as foods, while in others they are defined as drugs. The hormones DHEA (a steroid), pregnenolone (also a steroid) and the pineal hormone melatonin are marketed as dietary supplements in the US.
Food fortification is the public health policy of adding micronutrients - essential trace elements and vitamins - to foodstuffs to ensure that minimum dietary requirements are met as simple diets based on staple foods with little variation are often deficient in certain nutrients.
Several ranges of food supplements are recognized:
In the United States, a dietary supplement is defined under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act as a product intended to supplement the diet and contains any of the following dietary ingredients:
Furthermore, it must also conform to the following criteria:
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