Dietary Supplements

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The demand for dietary supplements in the United States catapulted what was once a cottage industry into a $14 billion per year business in the year 2000. In 1994, the U.S. Congress formally defined the term dietary supplement as a product taken by mouth that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to supplement the diet. The dietary ingredients in these products may include vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, 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, liquids, or powders.

The use of dietary supplements is widespread—they are taken by half of American adults. But the use of supplements is not limited to adults. A study diet: the total daily food intake, or the types of foods eaten vitamin: necessary complex nutrient used to aid enzymes or other metabolic processes in the cell mineral: an inorganic (non-carbon-containing) element, ion, or compound amino acid: building block of proteins, necessary dietary nutrient enzyme: protein responsible for carrying out reactions in a cell metabolite: the product of metabolism, or nutrient processing within the cell published in the November 2001 Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that dietary supplement use is prevalent among students as well, with 17.6 percent of 1,532 eighth-graders reporting the use of a vitamin-mineral supplement. Herbs, one type of dietary supplement, are widely used throughout the world. In China, traditional medicine encompasses a holistic approach to healing, and herbal remedies are routinely included in self-care. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in developing countries up to 80 percent of indigenous populations rely on herbs for primary health care needs. In France and Germany, 30 to 40 percent of all medical doctors rely on herbal preparations as their primary medicines.

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