There are a huge range of products that are sold as ‘food supplements’ (described as ‘dietary supplements’ in the US), which are available to buy from shops and over the Internet.
These include vitamin and mineral supplements (e.g. multivitamins, vitamin E, zinc), botanical or herbal products (e.g. St. John’s Wort, Echinacea), protein supplements and many other products (e.g. glucosamine or probiotics). Food supplements are also available in a wide range of doses and forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, drinks, oils and tinctures, depending on the type of product and its intended use.
EU law provides the following definition of a ‘food supplement’: ‘Any food the purpose of which is to supplement the normal diet and which is a concentrated source of a vitamin or mineral or other substance with a nutritional or physiological effect, alone or in combination and is sold in dose form.’
This resource focuses on supplements containing vitamins, minerals and/or other nutrients (e.g. omega 3 fatty acids), although information on how these products are regulated is also relevant to other product types sold as ‘food supplements’.
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