What is a food supplement?

Food supplements are foodstuffs containing concentrated sources of nutrients, vitamins, minerals or other substances, such as probiotics, essential fatty acids, herbal extracts, with a nutritional or physiological effect, helping people reach an optimal nutritional intake by “supplementing” their diet. Food supplements are marketed in dose form such as capsules, pastilles, tablets, pills and other similar forms, sachets of powder, ampoules of liquids, drop dispensing bottles, and other similar forms of liquids and powders designed to be taken in measured small unit.

What do food supplements do?

As with other foods, food supplements contribute to maintaining the normal state of homeostasis in the body and are not meant to prevent or treat any disease. Food supplements function to maintain or improve health or to reduce the risk factors associated with disease. For instance, Calcium and Vitamin D can be used to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, folic acid to reduce the risk of certain births defects such as spina bifida, DHA and EPA to reduce high cholesterol, abnormal blood pressure and triglycerides, Ginkgo biloba to promote normal blood circulation, and Milk Thistle to protect liver health.

Food supplements are not meant to replace a balanced diet.

Contributing to the sustainability of the Health Care System

As such, food supplements, together with a healthy lifestyle, contribute to the improvement of citizens’ health and wellbeing, and to the reduction of the financial burden of healthcare systems on Member States. The reduction of diet-related risk factors for several diseases is a sustainable option, which serves the needs of the EU population first and foremost. This is particularly important in the EU, as an increasing 20 percent of its population is aged 65+.