What Are Dietary Supplements?
Food supplements contain nutrients like Vitamins minerals that are also found in normal foods – but in concentrated form and often in high doses. They are offered, for example, as tablets, capsules, powders, effervescent tablets, or liquids. food supplements may contain botanicals such as garlic, animal products such as fish oil, or synthetically produced such as most Vitamins.
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Food supplements are freely available. So you can get them not only in pharmacies but also in drug stores or supermarkets, for example. Some are offered as part of (alternative) medical treatments. However, they must not act like drugs, for example lowering blood pressure or blood sugar levels – and they must not be advertised as such. If a product had such an effect, it would have to be approved as a medicinal product.
Food supplements can contain, for example, the following substances:
- Vitamins like vitamin C, or vitamin E Folic acid
- Vitamin precursors (Provitamins) how Beta carotene
- Vitamin-like substances such as coenzyme Q10
- Minerals and Trace elements like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc
- Fatty acids such as omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids
- Protein components such as L-cysteine, L-carnitine
- Carbohydrates such as the fiber oligofructose
- other ingredients such as brewer’s yeast, algae, probiotic cultures
By Food supplements, the body may take in much more of these substances than would be possible through a normal diet. So far, there are no legally binding maximum quantities for this, only recommendations from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).
Food supplements must be marked as such. The label must contain the following information:
- Quantity and dose of the ingredients
- Recommended daily intake, which should not be exceeded
- Notice that Food supplements cannot replace a balanced diet
- Warning not to keep them out of the reach of children
Who checks the quality and safety of dietary supplements?
Count according to the law Food supplements to the food and not to the medicines. Medicines are pharmacologically active substances that affect the body and its functions in a special way. They are used to alleviate or prevent ailments and illnesses. food supplements have no pharmacological effect, this cannot be claimed by the manufacturer. It is only supposed to supply nutrients to the body. In terms of quality and safety apply to food supplements therefore different provisions than chemical or herbal medicinal products.
As with other foods, the responsibility for the safety of food supplements lies with the manufacturers and distributors. food supplements must be reported to the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL). In the case of dietary supplements, the authorities only register which substances are specified on the label. However, the authorities can also carry out spot checks on the products.
Food supplements don’t have to go through the rigorous testing and quality assurance processes prescribed for drugs before they hit the market. Therefore, one cannot always be sure that all products available on the market are of the same quality.
When is caution necessary?
When ordering on the Internet, there is a risk of stumbling across dubious suppliers or of ordering products abroad that are not subject to Indian food law. Since in other countries there are sometimes other regulations for Food supplements apply, it can also happen that a product contains such high-dose ingredients that it would be considered a medicinal product in Germany. It can also contain substances in amounts that are not recommended by the Indian authorities.
There Food supplements are not medicinal products, manufacturers are not allowed to advertise the elimination, alleviation, or prevention of diseases or their suitability for a specific area of application. That is why the products are often advertised with general statements such as “supports the immune system”, “has a balancing effect on the hormonal balance” or “to support healthy joint function”. Important to know: Such claims have mostly not been proven and say nothing about an actual health benefit of the funds.