Do you take a daily supplement to ease your arthritis or to help your heart stay healthy? Do you rely on a daily vitamin or iron pill to make up for what you lack in your diet? You’re not alone. Millions of Americans supplement their food intake with things like CoQ10 for blood pressure, fish oil for heart health and vitamin D for healthy bones. Most of these products offer a cost-effective way for consumers to augment their prescriptions and care regimen given to them by their physicians. Still, the Federal Drug Administration took steps last year to impose strict regulations on new supplements and new ingredients coming to the market.
NDI Guidance Explained
Last summer, the FDA issued a set of guidelines aimed at tightening the regulations surrounding over-the-counter vitamins and supplements. Under these New Dietary Ingredient rules, any new product that has an ingredient introduced since 1994 could be pulled from the drug store shelves without notice should the FDA deem it unsafe. While that may sound laudable, such action could force small vitamin manufacturers out of business and give the market share to big drug companies. The general worry is that this shift could make vitamins and supplements less affordable for consumers. If so, this move would put such products out of the reach of many Americans who rely on them today to supplement their doctor’s recommended care regimen.
Why is this FDA ruling so important? You’re healthy. You don’t need to worry about vitamins, right? Wrong. These over-the-counter products can help you get in better shape and maintain optimal health. Do you work out regularly? Whey protein can speed your recovery time between workouts. Do you need help avoiding those nasty flu bugs and other germs that invade your work environment every winter? Take a daily vitamin D tablet to boost your immune system. While few people will argue that supplements should replace traditional medicine, these products offer a budget-friendly and effective way to augment your regular doctor’s advice.
Though the FDA initially refused to reconsider the NDI Guidance, it recently agreed to review its recommendations, largely because of strong urging from the Alliance for Natural Health. One of the promises made in the FDA’s statement is a plan to create a list of dietary supplement ingredients that will be grandfathered under any new restrictions. Although they didn’t mention specific products, many of the most-popular dietary supplement ingredients are likely to be included.
Should you go stock up on your favorite supplement? Not just yet. These products, like prescription drugs, have a limited shelf life. Instead, be sure to watch the headlines and see how this story unfolds.