also known as food or nutritional supplements, are formulations meant
to supply nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fatty acids or amino
acids that are missing or are insufficient in quantity in a person's
diet. The legislations of different countries have defined dietary
supplements differently, some have described them as foods, while
others as drugs.
In the US for instance, a dietary supplement product is considered to
supplement the diet and contains dietary ingredients, viz. a vitamin, a
mineral, an herb or other botanical, an amino acid, or a dietary,
substance for increasing the total dietary intake. It could be a
concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of the
above constituents. Additionally, it is meant for ingestion in pill,
capsule, tablet, powder or liquid form.
In the European Union dietary supplements must be demonstrated to be
safe, in quantity as well as quality to be approved as dietrary
Types Of Dietary Supplements
There exist a wide range of substances labeled as dietary supplements, some of the common ones are described below.
Amino Acid Supplements
Amino acid supplements are amino acids, which are considered essential
or indispensable for humans. Further, since they cannot be produced
(synthesized) inside the body from scratch, they must be supplied in
the diet. Examples of essential amino acids for humans include
phenylalanine, methionine, threonine, valine, isoleucine, tryptophan,
lysine and leucine.
are the indigestible portion of plant foods that assist in moving food
through the digestive
system by absorbing water and easing defecation.
Dietary fiber usually comprises non-starch polysaccharides viz.
cellulose in addition to several other plant components such as
dextrins, inulin, lignin, waxes, chitins, pectins, beta-glucans and
A herbal supplement is any green, leafy plant, or its parts, used to
flavor food or used for medicinal purposes or is valued for other
qualities. Often a distinction is made between culinary and medicinal
herbs. In medicinal use, for instance any of the parts of a plant viz.
leaves, roots, seeds, berries, resin, flowers, root bark, inner bark
(cambium) and sometimes the pericarp or other portions, might be
considered as a herb.
Dietary minerals or mineral supplements
are the chemical elements considered essential for living organisms to
maintain optimal health. Although, minerals are best considered to be
supplied by consuming foods rich in the required minerals. However,
sometimes minerals are also ingested as dietary supplements. Some,
examples of dietary minerals include Cobalt - vitamin B12, Copper,
Calcium, Fluorine, Chloride, Magnesium, Iodine, Zinc, Selenium and
Nutraceutical is a portmanteau of the words 'nutrition' and
'pharmaceutical' and refers to
extracts of foods supposed to have a
medicinal effect on human health, when taken in certain quantities.
Nutraceuticals are available in several forms viz. capsule, tablet,
powder in a prescribed dose. Examples of nutraceuticals and their usage
includes resveratrol, which is derived from red grapes is an
antioxidant, psyllium seed husk is soluble dietary fiber and supposed
to help in preventing heart disease, sulforaphane found in broccoli
supposedly works as a cancer preventative, etc.
are essential compounds needed by the body in trace amounts for smooth
running of the body's processes and good health. A compound is termed
s a vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by
the body and must be sourced from the diet. Humans need vitamins A, C,
D, B series, E and K. A vitamin deficiency may make a person
susceptible to disease.
Weight Loss Supplements
Weight loss supplements are herbs or substances that may help an
overweight person lose weight. Some examples include herbs viz. Bitter
orange which supposedly increases the number of calories burned,
Chitosan is claimed to block the absorption of dietary fat, Ephedra is
thought to decrease appetite, etc.
Dietary Supplements - Sourcing Tips
When it’s about dietary supplements, it's quality that determines how
effective and safe the treatments will eventually be. The importance of
quality dietary supplements can’t be overstated. The following
guidelines would help you to procure quality supplies of dietary
1.Establish the integrity of the source prior placing the order
2.Establish a list of approved suppliers.
3.Require that any alternative source of supply provides the following as a minimum:
a.A pedigree back to the previous source
b.Certification that it is not a diverted product
c.Certification that any actions by the alternative source will not alter any original manufacture warranties or guarantees
d.Certification that the product has been stored and handled consistent with product labeling requirements
4.Be wary if a product is being offered at an unusually cheap price.
5.Check for signs of a removed or switched product label
6.Check for subtle changes in the product’s package (compare with
previously purchased products), notwithstanding legitimate parallel
7.Look for variations in the size of the container (compare with
previously purchased products), not withstanding legitimate parallel
8.Look for differences in container length, diameters and shapes.
9.Examine for variations in diameters of bottle openings or lids.
10.Examine for variations in the thickness of glass or plastic containers and for variations in container color tints.
11.Compare the physical characteristics of the product
Unlike earlier when the dietary supplement industry was confined to
vitamins and minerals, the industry now covers herbal remedies,
botanical products e.g. gingko biloba, amino acids and more.
Further, over the years dietary supplements have garnered a lot of
attention in the media and have widely become popular as capable of
treating a range of abnormal medical conditions viz. to combat cancer,
anxiety, depression, impotence, heart disease, digestive problems, the
common cold, fatigue, obesity, prostate problems, high blood pressure,
This popularity has also resulted market growth of this segment of the medical industry
Some of the best selling botanicals in the US for instance are garlic,
ginseng, Echinacea gingko biloba and St. John's Wort, accounting for
over $200 million in annual sales. Directly competing with many
According to the statistics of the Office of Dietary Supplements, in
2004, consumers spending on dietary supplements was worth US $20.3
billion. Studies also point to consumers increasingly searching
for dietary supplements on the Internet.
The European market on the other hand is also well developed and it was
the largest market for herbal and botanicals, valued at US $5.7bn in
2006. The market was worth $14.0 billion in 2006 and the supplements
industry grew by 4.1% after 2005. In Europe growing public awareness of
health and dietary Issues and an aging population is expected to
stimulate the growth of the dietary supplements' market.