Government Guidelines & More
prescription drugs have a lot in common. Both are used in an attempt
to improve health. But “natural” remedies marketed as dietary
supplements in the United States are regulated differently than their
prescription counterparts. These supplements include:
over-the-counter vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, herbs, plants in
various forms, and combinations that are intended as additions to the
diet and other products such as topical progesterone cream and
other nonprescription hormone treatments.
similar types of products are classified as natural health products
(NHPs) and, in addition to vitamins, minerals, probiotics, amino acids
and essential fatty acids, also include herbal products,
homeopathic medicines, and Traditional Chinese
Supplements can provide important nutrients that a woman’s diet alone may
not. But before women consider making supplements part of their
daily routine, here are some simple safety points and procedures:
Nutritional supplements should not be used to replace
a healthy diet.
Just as people need certain amounts of
nutrients to stay healthy, an excess of these nutrients may cause
Many dietary supplements have not
been tested for effectiveness or safety. The United States and Canada
have safety practices in place, but consumers must understand the
limitations of these guidelines.
In the United States,
demonstrating safety is not required before a dietary supplement
is approved. The government regulating body must prove that a
supplement is harmful before it can be removed from the market. The
National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and the US Pharmacopeia (USP)
are nongovernmental organizations that set standards for the
quality and purity of dietary supplements. Approved products have labels
marked with “NSF” or “USP.”
In Canada, all natural
health products require a product license before they can be sold.
This Natural Product Number (NPN) or NPN-HM for homeopathic medicine
indicates to consumers that the product has been reviewed and
approved by Health Canada for safety and efficacy. Products that have
a valid drug identification number (DIN) designation have until
2010 to obtain a new NPN product license.
should check with a healthcare provider before taking any
supplement. Some may pose additional risks when combined with other
medications or when taken by women with preexisting health problems. Some
of these products should not be taken around the time of surgery.
For current information and advisories regarding
supplements in the US, visit the FDA safety page.
The Co-Editors of Menopause Flashes are Elizabeth Contestabile, RNC, BScN, Nurse Educator, Shirley E. Greenberg Women's Health Centre, The Ottawa Hospital, Riverside Campus, Ottawa, ON, Canada; and Marcie K. Richardson, MD, Co-director, Harvard Vanguard Menopause Consultation Service, Boston, MA.
This e-newsletter, developed under the direction of the Consumer Education Committee of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), provides current information, but not specific medical advice. It is not intended to substitute for the judgment of an individual’s healthcare provider. To unsubscribe, send us an e-mail request.
Copyright 2008. Distributing print copies of this e-newsletter, in whole or part, is strictly prohibited.
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)
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