We have put together a question and answer section to help us understand the dietary guidelines outlined by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. (DSHEA)
Q. What are supplements and why does the industry need Guidelines?
Supplements are products made of one or more essential nutrients. The DSHEA lays out the basic guidelines all manufacturers should follow. This act sets the industry standard, educates the consumer and identifies, with some exceptions, any product intended for ingestion as an enhancement to the diet. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, other plant-derived substances, amino acids, concentrates, metabolites, constituents and extracts of these substances.
Supplements are not drugs. Drugs (sometimes derived from plants) are used in traditional medicine, to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent disease. Drug manufacturers have to follow FDA stipulations whereas supplement manufacturers may or may not follow these guidelines. The FDA does not authorize or test dietary supplements.
The Dietary Guidelines were established in 1994 as a result of public concern. Manufacturers have responsibility to check the safety of each supplement and determine that the dietary ingredients listed on the label are present. For this reason a complete list is a must.
Q. Where do the colors for nutritional supplement tablets and capsules come from? Are these colors natural or artificial?
Tablets and capsules should obtain their rich colors from natural sources contained within the individual products.
Q. Do some products contain artificial flavors?
The only products that may contain artificial flavors are energy shakes and meal replacement drinks. A company should always look first to nature for 100% natural flavors. For example, a tropical punch energy shake contains one or more fruit concentrates and fruit powders, however it may also contain artificial flavors. The dietary guidelines require these additional ingredients to be listed as well in the Supplement Facts Panel. These additives should have a long history of safe use.
Q. MSG is a real concern to many consumers. Can a company provide a statement, in writing, identifying which products contain MSG?
Insure that the brand you purchase does not add monosodium glutamate (MSG) to any product. You may also wish to check for written Quality Control processes. A manufacturer should have, although not required in the dietary guidelines, Specification Sheets and Certificates of Analysis for all nutritive raw food materials that are used.
Q. Who makes a company's products?
A company itself should have control of each and every step from initial research, formulation, and testing to raw material selection. The complete manufacturing process, and ultimate quality confirmation.
Q. Not all of the ingredients listed on product labels look familiar. Could these ingredients be harmful?
A company must insure ALL the ingredients used have a long history of safe use, have been used without incident and are selected because the raw materials are the best sources available.
Q. Does the product use any genetically modified components?
Genetically modified organisms or GMO’s, have the potential for both dramatic benefit and catastrophic risk. On the one hand it offers the opportunity to "feed the starving masses" by creating new forms of certain crop plants that can be grown where they previously couldn't, produce greater yields or provide previously missing nutrients. On the other hand it holds the potential to create virulent "monster" plants that could displace their "weaker" natural cousins. Suppliers need to confirm that the materials they provide to a company have not used any GMO's. A manufacturer should also insure the materials were not genetically manipulated.
Q. Are the products or ingredients organic?
A company should use only the best raw materials available. Just because a raw material is organically grown, doesn't necessarily mean it is the best available. If a company were to use only 100% organically-grown fruits and vegetables, the limited varieties of such foods would tremendously restrict the diversity of ingredients that could be included in the products. This would likely result in higher prices for consumers. A company must make sure all ingredients are pesticide-free. Should any raw material not pass the Quality Control procedures, the manufacturer should not use these materials in their products.
Q. At what temperature should products be processed?
Products should be processed with as little heat and moisture as possible to maximize nutrient content. Most supplement companies will not reveal the precise temperatures used in manufacturing; that is considered proprietary information. The amount of heat used is only as much as needed to complete manufacturing and no more. The finished products should then be tested to insure that the full nutrient spectrum intended for delivery is present.
Q. How can I find more information on a product?
A company should have listed on each product a support line number and/or address information.
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