IS A DIETARY SUPPLEMENT A FOOD OR A DRUG?
According to our online supplements store, the term “dietary supplement” is used to describe a diverse and broad category of products that a person eats or drinks to support good health and supplement the diet. These dietary supplements are not medicines and neither should they be considered as a substitute for food. Unlike drugs the supplements are not supposed to treat, diagnose, and prevent diseases which means that supplements cannot make claims like “treats heart diseases” or “reduces pain”. Such claims are only meant for drugs and not dietary supplements.
A dietary supplement can also be a combination of vitamins, minerals, herbs or amino acids and on the other hand, if the food is represented as a dietary supplement and is intended to increase the dietary intake of specific substances like vitamins, then it would be subjected as a dietary supplement. For example, if a product is labeled as a dietary supplement but it is also represented as a snack food then it would be considered as conventional food. Though these dietary supplements are regulated as foods, they can be segregated from other foods and drugs. The classification of a product as a conventional food or drug is also based on its intended use. The classification of the product as a dietary supplement can also be determined by the information that the manufacturer provides on the label but many foods and dietary supplement labels do not include such type of information.
The label of the dietary supplement or a food product may contain one of these claims: health claim, nutrient content claim, or function claim. The relationship between a food, it’s component or supplement ingredient and reducing the risk of a disease can be described by a health claim. The nutrient content claim shows the relative amount of a nutrient or a dietary substance in the product. The function claim describes how the product might affect the organs or systems of the body also, it cannot mention any specific disease. And taking it with medicine or substituting it in place of a prescribed medicine could lead to harmful or even life-threatening results.
Drugs are needed to get approved by the government before they can be sold or marketed but dietary supplements do not need this approval. The companies which make the supplements are required to have strong evidence that their products are safe.
In conclusion, it can be said that the dietary supplement and education act defines the dietary supplements as a category of food but there is one exception. if the dietary supplements tend to meet the definition of a drug then it can be termed and regulated as a drug.