Yes, the Food and Drug Administration (Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates vitamins, minerals and herbs. Also, as of 2011 all dietary supplement manufacturers must follow Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs), which means testing is required for all raw materials and finished products. Contrary to what people sometimes believe, the dietary supplement industry is regulated, just not the way drugs are regulated. Supplements are often marketed without proving they work as claimed making the FDA or FTC “catch up” with them after they have been distributed. If there are frequent reports of adverse reactions, the FDA will investigate. If they find fault with product, they have the power to pull it from the market, levy fines, etc. The FTC cracks down on false claims and can also remove the product and/or fine the company at fault.

The good news is that the supplements are far safer than drugs, which is why they don’t require the same regulations. There is a reason dietary supplements (DS) don’t follow the same regulations as drugs. DS are NOT drugs. Drugs are for disease care – they treat disease and related symptoms and can cause very serious side effects, including death. FDA approved drugs used PROPERLY are a leading cause of death in the US, which is why they require a very different scrutiny. DS related deaths are virtually non-existent – (see information from National Poison Data System below) and adverse events are extremely/relatively rare.

The Townsend Letter, April 2010 reported that according to the most recent information collected by the US National Poison Data System, (174 page annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, published in the journal Clinical Toxicology), there was not even one death cause by a dietary supplement. Additionally, there were zero deaths from multiple vitamins, zero deaths from any of the B vitamins, zero deaths from vitamins A, C, D or E, zero deaths from minerals, and zero deaths from any other vitamin. There were not even any deaths reported from an herbal product or Ayurvedic medicines. No man, woman or child died from nutritional supplements. Compare this to a report published in JAMA that said that an estimated 2,216,000 (1,721,000 to 2,711,000) hospitalized patients had serious adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and 106,000 (76,000 to 137,000) had fatal ADRs, making these reactions between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death.  And just to clarify, these were patients who received the correct doses of the correct drugs administered by the proper health care professional that still had so many ADR's that it is a leading cause of death.

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