Is there a regulating agency for vitamins, minerals and herbs?

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
Yes, the Food and Drug Administration (Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulate vitamins, minerals and herbs. As of 2011 all supplement manufacturers must follow Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs), which means testing is required for all raw materials and finished products. Contrary to what some believe, the supplement industry is regulated, just not the way drugs are. Supplements are often marketed without proving they work as claimed making the FDA or FTC “catch up” with them after they've been distributed. If there are frequent reports of adverse reactions, the FDA will investigate. If they find fault with product, they have the power to pull it from the market, levy fines, etc. The FTC cracks down on false claims and can also remove the product and/or fine the company at fault.

The good news is that the supplements are far safer than drugs, which is why they don’t require the same regulations. There's a reason dietary supplements (DS) don’t follow the same regulations as drugs. DS are NOT drugs. Drugs are for disease care; they treat disease and related symptoms and can cause very serious side effects, including death. FDA approved drugs used PROPERLY are a leading cause of death in the US, which is why they require a very different scrutiny. DS related deaths are virtually non-existent and adverse events are extremely/relatively rare.

The Townsend Letter, Apr 2010 reported that according to the most recent information collected by the US National Poison Data System, (annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in the journal Clinical Toxicology), there was not even 1 death cause by a supplement. There were zero deaths from multi-vitamins, zero deaths from B vitamins, zero deaths from vitamins A, C, D or E, zero deaths from minerals, and zero deaths from any other vitamin. There were not even any deaths reported from an herbal product or Ayurvedic medicines. No man, woman or child died from nutritional supplements. Compare this to a report published in JAMA that said that an estimated 2,216,000 (1,721,000 to 2,711,000) hospitalized patients had serious adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and 106,000 (76,000 to 137,000) had fatal ADRs, making these reactions between the 4th & 6th leading cause of death. To clarify, these were patients who received the correct doses of the correct drugs administered by their healthcare professional.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.