Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched a new initiative, Supplement Your Knowledge, to help educate, inform, and broaden consumer, educator and healthcare professional understanding of dietary supplements. More than half of all Americans take dietary supplements daily or on occasion. Today’s Supplement Your Knowledge resources will provide reliable information about the potential benefits and risks associated with dietary supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, and herbs, they may consume.
“Dietary supplements can be valuable to your health but taking some supplements can also involve health risks. It’s important for consumers to have a comprehensive understanding about dietary supplements as well as the ability to identify and safely use supplements that are beneficial to their health,” said Douglas Stearn, Deputy Director for Regulatory Affairs in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “These Supplement Your Knowledge resources will help provide consumers and healthcare professionals with facts to make informed decisions when determining if they want to use or recommend dietary supplements.”
Every day, millions of Americans take dietary supplements for a variety of reasons, whether recommended by their healthcare professional or on their own. Some supplements can help consumers meet their daily requirements of essential nutrients or help improve or maintain their overall health. But dietary supplements may also come with health risks, so it’s important to stay informed. As part of the FDA’s ongoing efforts to build awareness around dietary supplements, Supplement Your Knowledge includes the following materials:
- For consumers: Public education videos and fact sheets with important information about dietary supplements, including how they are regulated and potential benefits and risks. These materials are also a helpful resource when talking to a physician, nurse, dietitian, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional before taking a dietary supplement.
- For educators: Teenagers can be particularly vulnerable targets for misunderstanding what dietary supplements are, and they are often unaware of the potential benefits and adverse effects dietary supplements can have on their bodies. To help high school students evaluate the accuracy and credibility of information they may see and hear about dietary supplements, the FDA has developed Science and Our Food Supply: Examining Dietary Supplements (2021 Edition). This curriculum aligns with current national education standards and supports educators seeking Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) activities for their classrooms. This curriculum can be customized to science, health, and other related classes.
- For healthcare professionals: The FDA, in collaboration with the American Medical Association (AMA), has developed a continuing medical education (CME) program to help physicians and other healthcare professionals understand how dietary supplements are regulated, provide information to patients on their use, and recognize and report adverse events to the FDA. This free CME program includes three videos and companion education materials and is available on the FDA’s Healthcare Professionals website. Interested physicians can also access these materials at no cost and earn 0.50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) on the AMA Ed HubTMExternal Link Disclaimer.
The FDA advises consumers to talk to their doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional before deciding to purchase or use any dietary supplement. One reason for this recommendation is because some supplements might interact with medicines or other supplements. If a consumer thinks that a product might have caused a reaction or an illness, they should immediately stop using the product and contact their healthcare professional. The FDA also encourages consumers and healthcare professionals to report adverse reactions associated with FDA-regulated products to the agency using the Safety Reporting Portal.
Public health and safety regarding dietary supplement use are matters of great importance to the FDA. Supplement Your Knowledge is part of the agency’s plan of action to arm individuals with helpful information to make informed decisions about the use of dietary supplements. Help spread the word about this important initiative by using the FDA’s Dietary Supplements Social Media Toolkit and find additional information on dietary supplements at www.fda.gov/dietarysupplements.
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The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.