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What is the Difference Between a Vitamin and a Supplement?

Visit any drug store, and you’ll find shelves of supplements, dietary products and vitamins. With so many terms used to describe similar products, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. Thankfully, the FDA has provided guidelines to minimize consumer confusion. ... Read More

What is the Difference Between a Vitamin and a Supplement?

Visit any drug store, and you’ll find shelves of supplements, dietary products and vitamins. With so many terms used to describe similar products, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. Thankfully, the FDA has provided guidelines to minimize consumer confusion.

Dietary Supplements

According to the FDA, dietary supplements support rather than replace nutrition, and often contain a combination of vitamins, minerals, herbs and other botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes. Dietary supplements may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids or powders.

All supplements must follow the same rules for retail, which ensure clear packaging that includes supplement facts and does not make exaggerated claims about product effectiveness. In addition, supplements cannot be advertised for treating, diagnosing, mitigating or preventing diseases.

Vitamins

A vitamin is a type of organic chemical compound that is a vital nutrient for an organism. Although most people get all the vitamins they need from the foods they eat, millions of people worldwide take supplemental vitamins as part of their health regimen.

Natural and synthesized formulations claim to enhance one’s diet, lifestyle and health. Vitamins are often labeled for uses such as improved energy, enhanced memory, natural pain or allergy relief, elevated mood, better sleep and even weight loss.

Be aware that the FDA does not have to approve these products for them to be introduced to the market. Because of this, scientific evidence and drug trials supporting a vitamin or supplement claim are not required. Contact your physician before starting any vitamin or supplement regimen, and never take one of these products in lieu of proper medical treatment.