A dietary supplement is either intended to provide nutrients in order to increase the quantity of their consumption, or to provide non-nutrient chemicals which are claimed to have a biologically beneficial effect.
Supplements as generally understood include vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, or amino acids, among other substances. U.S. authorities define dietary supplements as foods, while elsewhere they may be classified as drugs or other products.
There are more than 50,000 dietary supplements available. More than half of the U.S. adult population (53% – 55%) consume dietary supplements with most common ones being multivitamins.
These products are not intended to prevent or treat any disease and in some circumstances are dangerous, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. For those who fail to consume a balanced diet, the agency says that certain supplements “may have value.” An exception is vitamin D, which is recommended in Nordic countries due to weak sunlight.
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