When it comes to consumer health, I’ve found that you have to be aware and conscious of the bargaining and selling – but one thing that I found particularly interesting was the idea that supplements and the FDA don’t always operate on the same plane. I was drawn to this in an interesting way – I was listening to a podcast hosted by Pete Holmes, a comedian. He’s an advocate for hemp oil, a particular hemp oil called Charlotte’s Web, which was created specifically for medicinal purposes, for a young girl who would experience multiple seizures a day. However, while listening to the podcast, which was an interview with the creators of this hemp oil, they would use statements that were interesting – they could say it was intended to do ‘x’ and give testimony, but couldn’t claim that it did any of the things that it had done through this testimony.
This started to make more sense, when you look at other advertisements for supplements that aren’t moderated by the FDA – think hydroxycut on daytime television shows. It made me interested in the exact rules and regulations about these dietary supplements and their rules and regulations – so I went onto the FDA’s website and did some poking around to find out exactly how we should be analyzing these supplements.
“Excellent Source Of…” – The FDA defines the usage of ‘excellent source of’ as something that doesn’t quite have a definition. The website is very vague, but seems to give an example when it comes to vitamin C – but doesn’t give exact guidelines on whether or not something needs numerical value. Excellent source of, seems to be unreliable in the actual vitamin content of a supplement. It says something about needing that actual vitamin, but not much else.
Structure Function – To have a health claim, it has to substantiate and make correlation – for example, folic acid is known to be good for prenatal health. So any supplement that has folic acid can then be passed as ‘good for prenatal health’, as long as no ingredients are NOT.
FDA/FTC – The regulating bodies of these supplements – the FTC deals with the general business side, while the FDA deals with the regulation of certain consumable materials.