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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Drugs

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Dietary Supplements: Questions and Answers

What is a dietary supplement?

A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to supplement or enhance the diet. The "dietary ingredients" in these products may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites. Dietary supplements can also be extracts or concentrates, and may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, soft gels, gel caps, liquids, or powders. Whatever their form may be, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 places dietary supplements in a special category under the general umbrella of "foods," not drugs, and requires that every supplement be labeled a dietary supplement.

Where can I find information about dietary supplements?

Because dietary supplements are under the umbrella of "foods," FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) is responsible for the agency's oversight of these products. Information on how FDA regulates dietary supplements is available from the CFSAN Web site.