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March 26, 2003

The Need for Regulation of Dietary Supplements—Lessons From Ephedra

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Dr Fontanarosa is Executive Deputy Editor, Dr Rennie is Deputy Editor, and Dr DeAngelis is Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2003;289(12):1568-1570. doi:10.1001/jama.289.12.1568

Dietary supplements encompass a wide spectrum of products, including vitamins and minerals, such as folate and calcium; herbal therapies and botanical agents, such as ephedra and ginkgo biloba; and enzymes or extracts from organs or glands, such as some "hormone" preparations.1 Dietary supplements are readily available in pharmacies, grocery stores, and health food stores, as well as by mail and via the Internet. These products are widely promoted, often with unsubstantiated claims of benefit and rarely with any mention of potential hazards. In the United States, dietary supplements are used by millions of people every day and account for billions of dollars in sales annually.

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