Do you take a daily multivitamin? An herbal supplement? How about a pill that advertises weight loss? If so, you are a part of the majority of people in the U.S. (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) who add to their diet by using vitamins, minerals, herbals and amino acids, to name a few. Chances are, you are also someone who has not talked about what you are taking with your health care provider. How do people know which supplement is right for them?
People naturally have questions about supplements. Do they work? How do they work? Answers to these questions are not as obvious as they would be for medicines that health providers prescribe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal agency that oversees both dietary supplements and medicines. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs have to be reviewed and approved by the FDA. Before drugs are allowed to be advertised and sold, the companies that make them have to test the drugs and submit proof that the drugs are safe and effective. Dietary supplements are not approved as drugs by the FDA. Companies that advertise and sell vitamins, minerals or herbal supplements do not have to get FDA approval to sell their products. But the FDA would step in if it found a product to be unsafe or the manufacturer to be making false claims about the product.