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FDA launches dietary supplement education initiative

The Food and Drug Administration has launched a new initiative, Supplement Your Knowledge, to help educate, inform and broaden consumer, educator and healthcare professional understanding of dietary supplements.

The FDA noted that more than half of all Americans take dietary supplements daily or on occasion.

The Supplement Your Knowledge resources will provide reliable information about the potential benefits and risks associated with dietary supplements, such as vitamins, mineral and herbs that they may consume.

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“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.”

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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 also may 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 also are 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 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, has developed a continuing medical education 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 also can access these materials at no cost and earn 0.50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) on the AMA Ed Hub External Link.

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.