Are Dietary Supplements Really Safe?

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Master's February 2008

download word file, 5 pages 0.0

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...