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The term dietary supplement is a broadly used term in today's marketing world. While one might associate anything marketed as such to be healthy, that is not always the case. Under the 1994 Dietary Supplement and Education Act (DSHEA), Congress redefined what the term dietary supplement means. Under this new definition, a dietary supplement is any product taken by mouth that contains a "dietary ingredient" for the purpose of supplementing a diet.
Along with this new definition came the list of dietary ingredients that could be included in these products: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, and amino acids. Other possible ingredients include enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars and metabolites.
Under the DSHEA, dietary supplements are no longer under the regulations and guidelines of "food" according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To be blunt, there are no guidelines for the manufacturing, marketing and selling of products labeled as "dietary supplements". The manufacturer does not need to answer to any organization before creating and marketing a product unless it is going to include a "new dietary ingredient". (A "new dietary ingredient" is any component of a dietary supplement-see dietary ingredients.)
For more information about the FDA, DSHEA and dietary supplements, visit http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/∼dms/ds-oview.html
There are a number of dietary supplements currently available which offer the promise of weight-loss, increased muscle mass, increased energy or a combination of all three. One of the most widely advertised is Metabolife 356. This product claims to "raise the body's metabolism and create a thermogenic response, which in turn burns fat, not lean muscle tissue" (www.metabolife.com). Additionally, Metabolife 356 promises that a person taking the product will experience higher energy levels as opposed to just dieting and exercising alone.
Another supplement still receiving a fair amount of attention is Creatine. While this is not a supplement for weight loss, it is one that is popular among men and women trying to increase their muscle mass. There do not appear to be any negative side effects to Creatine, but as with any other supplement, you must follow the directions carefully. For more information on Creatine, please stop by the Wellness Center.