The Supplement Shakedown
“Achieve optimal health!”
“Perform better by fueling muscles and supporting recovery!”
“Promote healthy skin, hair & nails!”
With such appealing claims and attractive packaging on dietary supplements bottles, it’s fairly easy to overlook the fine print stating:
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
In the United States, the use of dietary supplements has grown among adults ages 20 and older. According to the Center for Disease Control, the percentage of the population using dietary supplements in 2006 was 53% with supplement sales reaching $2.37 billion. However, many Americans use supplements despite being poorly informed regarding their safety and efficacy.
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 defines a dietary supplement as “a product intended to supplement the diet that contains any of the following dietary ingredients: a vitamin; a mineral; an herb or other botanical; or an amino acid…” Supplements can be packaged as pills, capsules, tablets, liquids, or powders, but they cannot be sold for use as a traditional food item as they are strictly meant to supplement a well-balanced diet. Unlike health or nutrient content claims, supplements do not need to be preapproved by the Food and Drug Administration.
In some cases, supplements may be required to help individuals meet a certain nutrient requirement or to treat a nutrient deﬁciency. Vegans may require a B12 supplement as it is not found naturally in plant foods and those with iron deficiency anemia may need to take an iron supplement. Yet for generally healthy individuals, optimal health can easily be achieved through a well balanced diet consisting of a variety of nutrient-rich foods. The dining halls provide a wide selection of options making it easy for students to incorporate each of the food groups into their diets. If you are considering taking a supplement, remember to always check with your medical care provider beforehand.