Whos Making the Rules for Dietary Supplements

As mentioned, there are rules that regulate dietary supplements—sort of. The Dietary Supplement Health Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 created a definition for a dietary supplement and charged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with monitoring the safety of a supplement . . . after it reaches the market. The FDA is not responsible for analyzing the contents of a supplement or making sure that the supplement you purchase works. The way the act is designed, the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that the supplement's label is truthful and not misleading. Manufacturers are also expected to follow the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), which ensures consistency in how the supplement is prepared, packed, and stored. According to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements, there is no such thing as "standardization," as there is no accepted U.S. definition pertaining to dietary supplements. Therefore there is no assurance that each supplement has the same dose of active ingredients, nor any that it works.

Here are the players in the dietary supplement regulatory world:

  • Food and Drug Administration: Responsible for taking action against a supplement after it's on the market.
  • Federal Trade Commission: Ensures that the advertising of dietary supplements in national or regional newspapers and magazines; in

Energy to Burn Nutritionism: In 2004, Americans spent $20.3 billion on dietary supplements. (Nutrition Business Journal, 2005)

Energy to Burn Nutritionism: According to the 2002 Health and Diet Survey, 73 percent of U.S. adults reported using a dietary supplement.

radio and TV commercials, including infomercials; through direct mail to consumers; or on the Internet is not misleading and is truthful.

  • Good Manufacturing Practices: Describes the conditions under which products must be prepared, packed, and stored.
  • Office of Dietary Supplements: Office under the National Institutes of Health created in 1995 under the DSHEA to evaluate the science behind supplements, stimulate and support research, release research results, and educate the public.
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