Policy ForumHEALTH

Regulation of "Nutraceuticals"

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Science  17 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5435, pp. 1853-1855
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5435.1853

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The U.S. Congress, in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) established a framework for regulation of dietary supplements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For dietary supplements, the FDA regulates labeling to limit health claims, but is not empowered to insist on rigorous studies establishing safety before marketing (as would be required for drugs or food additives). This creates a substantial potential risk to the health of the public, and serious adverse effects have been reported from some dietary supplements that are currently being marketed. The author recommends that a new category of dietary supplements, called "nutraceuticals," be established for supplements to be administered at doses that exceed normal human exposure to these agents in foods. Regulations should require that these nutraceuticals be judged safe before they are marketed.