What does NEM stand for

What are dietary supplements?

contain nutrients such as or minerals that are also found in normal foods - but in concentrated form and often in high doses. They are offered, for example, as tablets, capsules, powders, effervescent tablets or liquids. One can contain botanicals like garlic, animal like fish oil, or synthetically made like most.

are freely available. So you can get them not only in pharmacies, but also in drugstores or supermarkets, for example. Some are offered as part of (alternative) medical treatments. However, they must not act like drugs, for example lowering blood pressure or blood sugar levels - and they must not be advertised as such. If a product had such an effect, it would have to be approved as a medicinal product.

may contain, for example, the following substances:

  • like vitamin C, or vitamin E
  • Vitamin precursors () like
  • Vitamin-like substances such as coenzyme Q10
  • Minerals and such as calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc
  • Fatty acids such as omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids
  • Protein components such as L-cysteine, L-carnitine
  • Carbohydrates such as the fiber oligofructose
  • other ingredients such as brewer's yeast, algae, probiotic cultures

Under certain circumstances, the body absorbs much more of these substances than would be possible through normal nutrition. So far, there are no legally binding maximum quantities for this, only recommendations from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

A must be marked as such. The label must contain the following information:

  • Quantity and dose of the ingredients
  • Recommended daily intake that should not be exceeded
  • Notice that a balanced diet cannot replace it
  • Warning not to keep them out of the reach of children

Who checks the quality and safety of dietary supplements?

According to the law, it is a food and not a drug. Medicines are pharmacologically active substances that affect the body and its functions in a special way. They are used to alleviate or prevent ailments and illnesses. One has no pharmacological effect, and the manufacturer cannot claim that either. It is only supposed to supply nutrients to the body. In terms of quality and safety, different provisions apply to those for chemical or herbal medicinal products.

As with other foods, the responsibility for the safety of food supplements lies with the manufacturers and distributors. One must be reported to the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL). In the case of dietary supplements, the authorities only register which substances are specified on the label. However, the authorities can also carry out spot checks on the products.

so they don't have to go through the rigorous testing and quality assurance processes prescribed for drugs before they hit the market. Therefore, one cannot always be sure that all products available on the market are of the same quality.

When is caution necessary?

When ordering on the Internet, there is the risk of stumbling across dubious suppliers or of ordering products abroad that are not subject to German food law. Since in other countries different regulations sometimes apply, it can also happen that a product contains such high-dose ingredients that it would be considered a medicinal product in Germany. In addition, it can contain substances in amounts that are not recommended by the German authorities.

Since there are no pharmaceuticals, manufacturers are not allowed to advertise the elimination, alleviation or prevention of diseases or with the suitability for a certain area of ​​application. That is why the products are often advertised with general statements such as “supports the immune system”, “has a balancing effect on the hormonal balance” or “to support healthy joint function”. Important to know: Such claims have mostly not been proven and say nothing about an actual health benefit of the funds.

Do you need nutritional supplements to stay healthy?

Those who eat a balanced and varied diet get all the nutrients the body needs. It is then unnecessary to take additional minerals and minerals. Under certain circumstances, however, the temporary intake of food supplements can be useful to compensate for deficiencies in a targeted manner.

For some diseases it has been proven that they do nothing. For example, studies show that contrary to popular belief, vitamin C cannot prevent colds. Vitamin supplements also do not protect against cancer or cardiovascular diseases.

Can Diet Supplements Be Harmful?

Since the manufacturers are not obliged to prove the harmlessness of their products, harmful effects cannot always be ruled out. Certain dangerous or risky substances may not be contained in food supplements. However, other substances can also be harmful. For example, some people have an allergic reaction to the plant substances they contain.

Research also suggests that supplements containing vitamins A, E and beta-carotene could increase the risk of certain diseases if they are taken longer and in high doses. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) therefore requires all manufacturers of vitamin preparations, for example, to limit the admixture of carotenes.

In addition, some can cause drug interactions. Anyone who is prescribed a drug and takes it regularly should therefore inform their doctor about it.

Those considering taking should ask themselves beforehand:

  • Why do I want to take the remedy?
  • Are there any scientific studies that show that this remedy is useful for my goals?
  • Do I have a disadvantage if I do without the product?
  • What other ways are there to promote my health?

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) also provides information on food supplements.