Issues on Dietary Supplements
Worldwide sales of dietary supplements grew to US$84.25 billion in 2011. In the European Union, supplements are governed by the EU Food Supplement’s Directive 2002, which establishes the criteria of purity, a proven safety before sale, and must be labeled “this is not a medicinal product” if it’s similar to a medicinal product. In the USA, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act 1994 regulates vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc as categories of food. There is no need to prove efficacy or safety before sale. If safety issues subsequently arise, the Food and Drug Administration steps in. Enforcement is also spotty, and as a whole the industry is largely unregulated. Sometimes, companies have their products quality tested by independent organisations like ConsumerLab, NSF International, US Pharmacopeia.
Labels like “Natural,” “High potency,” “pharmacy grade,” and “prescription strength” can be misleading. More expensive supplements do not equal better quality. Care ought to be taken as some supplements may interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications.