Current regulatory guidelines and resources to support research of dietary supplements in the United States

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020;60(2):298-309. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1524364. Epub 2018 Nov 13.


The U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) established the regulatory framework for dietary supplements as foods through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). DSHEA outlined the legal definition, labeling requirements, and process for adverse event reporting for dietary supplements. FDA also issued formal guidance on current Good Manufacturing Practice to ensure that processes for preparation, packaging, labeling, and storage of supplements and ingredients are documented and meet specifications to ensure purity, composition, and strength. However, efficacy of dietary supplements is not required under U.S. law. Despite regulations to improve the marketplace, many challenges remain; as a result, the quality and safety of products available can be highly variable, especially for botanical and herbal products. The ability of regulators to successfully carry out their mission is hampered by the sheer number of products and manufacturing facilities and a lack of analytical methods for all ingredients and products in the marketplace, this is especially difficult for herbal and botanical dietary supplements. Safety issues continue to exist such as adulteration and contamination, especially with specific product types (i.e. body building, sexual enhancement). Thus, a need remains for continued efforts and improved techniques to assess the quality of dietary supplements, especially with regard to purity, bioavailability, and safety. This review will highlight the existing American regulatory framework for dietary supplements and will describe the remaining regulatory barriers to ensuring that safe and high-quality dietary supplements are offered in the marketplace.

Keywords: Dietary supplements; good manufacturing practices; quality; regulation; safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Legislation, Food*
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration