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Nutraceuticals 101: Defining 'Dietary Supplement'

Last updated: February-9,2021

Nutraceuticals 101: Understanding Dietary Supplements and the U.S. Market

The Nutraceutical Industry is a conglomerate – a brand and product fuelled Frankenstein with arms and legs that reach into almost every corner of the health and wellness market from sports nutrition, to weight loss, to cognitive health.

Over the last several decades, the Nutraceutical Industry has grown into a global powerhouse, bringing in a whopping $165.62 billion in 2014 that is expected to swell to $278.96 billion by 2021.1 What lies at the heart of this industrial tour de force? Arguably, one singular and surprisingly simple concept: the dietary supplement.

What is a dietary supplement?

Even though the term “dietary supplement” has the potential to include millions of unique products that serve millions of different purposes, its own definition is surprisingly simple. A dietary supplement is  basically a product intended for ingestion (or oral consumption that contains one or more "dietary ingredients" This supplement should add value, or supplement, a healthy diet.

Types of Dietary Supplements

As for dietary ingredients, for the most part, they can be any of the following substances (alone or in combination):

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Herbs/Botanicals
  • Amino Acids
  • Concentrates
  • Constituents
  • Extracts
  • Metabolites

But remember, just because a substance falls into one of these categories doesn't automatically make it okay for use in a dietary supplement. Be sure to confirm that the dietary ingredients that you're using are acceptable for use according the FDA regulations.2

For anyone looking to break into the industry, taking the time to understand these two definitions, as well as how the FDA goes about updating them and adding new substances to its dietary ingredient lists is crucial.


1. http://www.transparencymarketresearch.com/global-nutraceuticals-product-market.html

2  http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm195635.htm

April 6th, 2016

About the Author:

Melissa DellaBartolomea

Melissa DellaBartolomea was the resident Content Marketing Specialist at NutraScience Labs from February 2016 to July 2018. Driven by a passion for the world of written, visual, and digital media, she's dedicated herself to keeping up with all things nutraceutical. From ingredient insights to the latest in contract manufacturing regulations and trends, her mission is to provide our readers (like you) with the stories and knowledge they need to fuel long-term growth and nutraceutical industry success.