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Ensuring quality of dietary supplements


*Corresponding author
United States Pharmacopeial Convention, Rockville, USA 


There is a global interest in supplementing the diet with products that may contribute to overall health. These often originate from natural (plant) sources with a long history of safe consumption rooted in tradition. Global regulatory frameworks for this type of product aim at promoting a measure of quality and safety, and at the same time, making consumer access to these products easier. The complexity of the analysis to assure quality of dietary supplement products increases depending on the nature of the ingredients that are part of the final product formulation, for example, powdered raw material, botanical extract, or mixture of components. Some product categories that are widely used are more prone to economically motivated adulteration, so that aspect also needs to be taken into account when analyzing dietary supplements ingredients and products. This article examines the concerns regarding the quality of dietary supplements, and offers solutions through transparent public quality standards.


There is a global interest in diet supplementation with products often linked to natural origin or a long history of use, which may help to promote good health. More than 50% of adults and children use dietary supplements with the motivation to improve or maintain overall health, and for site-specific conditions like heart, bone and joint, and eye health (1). Multivitamin-mineral products, calcium and omega-3 or fish oil supplements are amongst the widely used supplements.  The use of botanical products as supplements is trending upward. Consumers perceive these natural products as safe because of their natural origin and long history of use. Often use of these products is not based on recommendations of a health care provider.

The passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994 created a regulatory framework in the United States that allows the marketing of vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and their metabolites as dietary supplements, a new category of foods. During the last 24 years, the proliferation of new products has p ...

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