By Rachel Welch
In the wake of COVID-19, health became a hot topic of conversation. This prompted many people to take a close look at their overall health, and how they might improve it. For many, the focus shifted to health and immunity, leading people to increase their exercise, eat healthier, and consider new dietary supplements and vitamins.
Zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D are three supplements that became highly recommended by various sources, particularly after word spread that many COVID-positive patients were found to be lacking one or more of these valuable nutrients (1).
Dietary supplements have gained a trusting following in recent years. As with many meaningful health movements, the industry has also yielded a few questions. Are vitamins and supplements regulated by the FDA? Can supplements do more harm than good? Do supplements actually make a difference? Let’s address these common questions and concerns.
Are Vitamins and Supplements Regulated by the FDA?
Yes! Supplement manufacturing companies abide by strict standards of production, accurate labeling, and quality. The FDA takes action against any misbranded or misrepresented supplement products (2). They do not formally approve each individual supplement or cosmetic product prior to sale, but the manufacturers abide by strict guidelines. The FDA requires high standards related to labeling with accurate allergen and ingredient lists and quality control. Per the guidelines of the FD&C Act (the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act), the FDA requires that all companies avoid “misbranding,” by ensuring clearly listed warnings and directions for safe use of their products (3). You can take a sigh of relief knowing that your vitamins and supplements are in fact, regulated by the FDA.
Can Supplements Do More Harm Than Good?
As with any consumable good, moderation is key. Supplements and vitamins come labeled with a recommended serving size per day, just like packaged groceries. In the same way that eating three servings of chips would not be recommended for good health, it is also not a good idea to take more than the recommended dose of a supplement.
The purpose of supplements is to supplement nutrients that our bodies need to thrive. Our bodies create nutrients from the foods that we eat—if we consume nutritious foods. However, the average American diet is severely lacking in many key nutrients (4), making supplements a viable option for filling in the nutritional gap.
Too much of anything can cause issues, but at the recommended dosage, supplements have much more potential to help, than to harm.
Do Supplements Actually Make a Difference?
Supplements can help close the nutritional gap that is present in the American diet. A large percentage of the population is deficient in vitamin D, perhaps now more than ever, and doctors across the globe continue to prescribe vitamin D and other supplements which will improve the health of their patients (5).
Through the FDA’s oversight and the consumer’s discretion with adhering to a recommended dosage, we can trust that supplements can and do have a positive impact on overall health, nutrition, and well-being.
- 1. S. (2020, May 01). Ask the expert: The role of diet and nutritional supplements during covid-19. Retrieved March 01, 2021, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2020/04/01/ask-the-expert-the-role-of-diet-and-nutritional-supplements-during-covid-19/
- 2. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2019, August 16). Dietary Supplements. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplements
- 3. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2020, August 24). FDA Authority Over Cosmetics: How Cosmetics Are Not FDA-Approved, but Are FDA-Regulated. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-laws-regulations/fda-authority-over-cosmetics-how-cosmetics-are-not-fda-approved-are-fda-regulated
- 4. Bjarnadottir, MS, RDN, A. (2019, May 21). 7 Nutrient Deficiencies That Are Incredibly Common. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-common-nutrient-deficiencies#TOC_TITLE_HDR_6
- 5. Amrein, K., Scherkl, M., Hoffmann, M., Neuwersch-Sommeregger, S., Köstenberger, M., Berisha, A. T., Martucci, G., Pilz, S., & Malle, O. (2020, January 20). Vitamin D deficiency 2.0: an update on the current status worldwide. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41430-020-0558-y?error=cookies_not_supported&code=56620b47-9739-4242-9f4c-dc015807ef71
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