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NIH Launches Dietary Supplement Label Database
Health care providers, researchers, and consumers can now see the ingredients listed on the labels of approximately 17,000 dietary supplements by looking them up on the Dietary Supplement Label Database. The new Web site, hosted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is free of charge.
“This database will be of great value to many diverse groups of people, including nutrition researchers, healthcare providers, consumers, and others,” said Paul M. Coates, PhD, director of the NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements. “For example, research scientists might use the Dietary Supplement Label Database to determine total nutrient intakes from food and supplements in populations they study.”
Dietary supplements, taken regularly by about half of U.S. adults, can add significant amounts of nutrients and other ingredients to the diet. Supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbals and botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes. They come in many different forms, including tablets, capsules, and powders, as well as liquids and energy bars. Popular supplements include vitamins D and E; minerals, such as calcium and iron; herbs, such as echinacea and garlic; and specialty products, such as glucosamine, probiotics, and fish oils.
By law, any product labeled as a dietary supplement must carry a Supplement Facts panel that lists its contents and other added ingredients, such as fillers, binders, and flavorings. The Dietary Supplement Label Database includes this information as well as directions for use, health-related claims, and any cautions from the label.
Hundreds of new dietary supplements are added to the marketplace each year, while some are removed. Product formulations are frequently adjusted, as is information on labels. “The Dietary Supplement Label Database will be updated regularly to incorporate most of the more than 55,000 dietary supplement products in the U.S. marketplace,” said Steven Phillips, MD, director of the National Library of Medicine’s Division of Specialized Information Services.