Are Dietary Supplements Really Safe? Essay

1210 words - 5 pages

In today?s world health has become a big business. You can not watch television with out seeing a commercial for a ?memory enhancing? pill or a magic weight loss supplement. America?s perception of beautiful has sent many Americans running to their local health store in hopes of finding their ?miracle cure?. It is estimated that more than half of all Americans take some type of dietary supplement. Currently, there are about 30,000 products marketed in the United States as dietary supplements, making the industry worth more than $17 billion per year. Despite the fact that dietary supplements have become big business, manufacturing standards for quality, potency and effectiveness are inconsistent in many cases.According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act approved by Congress in 1994, the term "dietary supplement" refers to a wide range of products including ?vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, hormones, concentrates, extracts and metabolites taken orally that contain an ingredient meant to supplement the diet?(USFDA.) Unlike food and drugs, which are highly regulated by the U.S. government, the Food and Drug Administration does not require supplements to be tested for safety and effectiveness before they are sent into the marketplace. Some manufacturers take advantage of the limited regulations placed on supplements by using questionable marketing tactics and possibly providing misleading information.When Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994 the FDA's control over products labeled a dietary supplement was limited. The DSHEA states that manufacturers don't have to prove the safety or efficiency of a product before they put it on the market. With this act, Congress acknowledged that consumers believe supplements provide health benefits and that they want greater responsibility for deciding if the supplements are helpful to them. As a result, dietary supplements are not subjected to the same rigorous standards as are prescription drugs or those sold over the counter. Dietary supplements can be marketed with limited proof of effectiveness or safety. Vendors can make health claims about products based on their own review and interpretation of studies without FDA authorization. However, the FDA can pull a product off the market if it is proved dangerous.In November of 2004 the FDA initiated a new plan to place stronger regulations on manufacturers of dietary supplements. The FDA plans to work collaboratively with its partners to improve the evidence base it uses to make safety and enforcement decisions about dietary ingredients and dietary supplements. Those partners include the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the National Toxicology Program in the Department of Health and Human Services, the University of Mississippi's National Center for Natural Products Research, FDA's...

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