What's a Dietary Supplement? - Duke's Materia Tonica

Dietary Supplement

Dietary supplements are ingestible foods that are the source of nutrition, to increase the density of nutrients in the diet, and are added to a balanced diet with complete meals for health, wellness, and well-being. There are many form of nutrient supplements, (e.g. vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein powders, essential fatty acids), and various spices, medicinal herbs, superfoods, tonics, and adaptogens that are used to maintain, support, and promote health and wellness.

Dietary supplements are legally defined in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) 1994 as a type of food.

Dietary supplements come in many forms:

  • Vitamins - A, B-spectrum, C, D, E, K
  • Minerals - Common, trace, and rare earth
  • Amino Acids - Building blocks of protein
  • Protein Powders - Made from dairy or plant sources
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) - Omega 3 and 6
  • Spices, Herbs Botanicals - Culinary and medicinal remedies
  • Superfoods - Nutrient-dense foods, tonics, and adaptogens
  • Others - Such as probiotics and other unique constituents

Unique constituent dietary supplements may be derived from any food, herb, spice, or botanical. For example:

  • Antioxidants such as polyphenols from tea
  • Curcumin from turmeric root
  • Ginsenosides from ginseng roots
  • Polysaccharides from medicinal mushrooms

Supplements come in many forms, both dried and liquid:

  • Powder - fine loose dried
  • Pill or tablet - compressed powder
  • Capsule - enclosed powder
  • Gelcap or softgel - liquid capsule
  • Liquid - concentrated liquid suspension
  • Tincture - alcohol, glycerite, vinegar, or oil based liquid

Supplements are Not Drugs

Supplements do not Work Like Drugs

Dietary supplements are not the same as drugs. Dietary supplements are not approved to treat, cure, prevent, or manage the causes of disease that have been diagnosed, but instead maintain, support, and promote health and wellness. Only drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat, cure, prevent, and manage disease by a certified and licensed medical practitioner.

Some nutrients that may be taken as supplements have approved FDA 'health claims,' which means 'disease risk reduction.' Two examples:


Recreational Drugs are Not Dietary Supplements

Recreational drugs, such as psilocybin, cannabis and cbd, are not dietary supplements, since they are intoxicants that impair physical, emotional, and mental function.