Dietary supplements are neither food nor drugs. They are products that contain dietary ingredients – meant to supplement the diet, not substitute for healthful foods.

No supplement provides a quick, easy road to health. Only food can provide the ideal mixture of vitamins, minerals and other substances for health.

It is the official position of the American Dietetic Association that most healthy people can get all the nutrients they need from food in a well-planned diet.

Supplements are neither regulated nor tested by the government for safety or effectiveness, so their use is still largely a world of the unknown. Scientists are studying their potential benefits, hazards and interactions with other food, medicines or other supplements.

If you are thinking about trying supplements, first do some research and consult with your physician or dietetics professional.

Before you purchase a supplement, consider the following:

What are the supplement’s claims, and are they valid?
How do the ingredients work in the body?
How much of the ingredient does the supplement contain?
Is there scientific evidence to support the claims?
How much of the supplement do you need to take?
Is the cost worth the benefit?
Supplements may supply some vitamins and minerals, but not all the substances that food supplies for your optimal health. Good nutrition depends on overall healthful eating and active living, not on the use of dietary supplements.

For more information on dietary supplements, see ADA?s position statement at

Also, visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Web site for Tips for the Savvy Supplement User: Making Informed Decisions and Evaluating Information found at