Dietary supplements or nutritional supplements are pills, liquid drink, or food ment to supplement the diet for lack of nutrients such as amino acids, fatty acids, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. If nutrients are missing from the diet they can cause nutrient deficiency which can lead to health problems and even death. The definition of supplements varies from country to country but in the United States dietary supplements are considered food and have strict regulations on health claims like curing cancer or treating alzheimer's. If supplements can not prove their claims as cures or treatments the FDA does not allow advertising for such claims. As a result most dietary supplements are advertised as helping or treating certain conditions even though their dietary role is more extensive. This is thought to play a big role in the general public's opinions and understanding about dietary supplements especially herbs. For example a non herbal supplement like potassium is critical to the diet, however unlikely, if the body is deficient in this mineral a potassium supplement will fix a potassium deficiency. Likewise a potassium deficent patient's muscle weakness, fatigue, or even death could be preventable with a potassium supplement. But a potassium supplement can not be advertised as a cure for death because the estimated amount every person is assumed to be intaking is 2,000mg of potassium. Dietary supplements live in a grey area in America because the body needs certain amounts of essential nutrients to prevent diseases and harmful dietary conditions. But that's assuming everyone needs the exact same amount of nutrients in their diet. So if the Daily Value for Vitamin A in a average person is 5,000IU than a bigger person would need more than 5,000IU to possibly prevent heart disease. But Vitamin A can not claim to cure heart disease in the bigger person that is deficient in Vitamin A although this bigger person could acquire heart disease due to deficiency unknown to him.
All these regulations are controlled by the FDA or Food and Drug Administration. The food and drug administration is funded by the same pharmaceutical companies it's suppost to protect us from. Like when the FDA approves a man made compound that has been in existance for a few months to cure insomnia but may cause vomiting, dizziness, nausea, and death. But earth made plants can not claim to cure cancer even though they will not cause death can not be approved to advertise these claims. That's why the general public thinks cancer is uncureable but cancer has been cured in several cases through diet. But the FDA controls what is and what is not, and their biggest investor has their own view on what is and what is not. As time goes on people will hopefully realize cancer is simple. Cancer isn't some disease or parasite that infects our bodies like a cold. Cancer is just the outcome of everything we've ever done to our bodies, mostly diet. In some cases cancer related diets are apparent, like the case of the farmers family. The farmer and his wife always ate the same nutritious diet as did their two sons. As time went on the farmer and farmers wife passed on. As a result the two boys who grew old and wealthy farming ate more of a steak diet leaving out fiber-rich vegetables and fruits. The two boys quickly aquired colon cancer as a result and died soon after. If the two boys never removed the dietary fiber from their diet that their bodies were used to having than they may have never aquired colon cancer. But cancer can be the effect of non dietary things as well like skin cancer but that's not saying a vitamin A supplement could prevent skin cancer from ever forming.
The production of dietary supplements is intricate and varies from supplement to supplement. Herbal supplements are from plants of all kinds like trees, vines, weeds, roots, even algea. Fiber supplements are also made from plants because plants are the only natural things that contain fiber. Amino acid and fatty acid supplements come from animals and mostly animal organs. Mineral and vitamin supplements come from both plant and animal and usually side with one or the other. Minerals are the basic building blocks of all life. Minerals can not be made in the body, they must be obtained through diet and are found in everything. Although some vitamins can be made in the body the vitamins are made from other nutrients like beta carotene which is where most vitamin A comes from. The process for all these supplements starts with raw material like a plant or fish fat. This is where supplement productions take different roads. Herbal supplements that come from plants, must first dry the plant and remove most of the moisture from the herb. Once the moisture is removed herbs are typically ground up into powders. When the powders are ground into a fine enough powders (capsule grade) they are then sterolized so they can be capsulated or extracted. Herbal extraction has became more popular in the past decade due to bio fuels which generally puts a plant or part of a plant through the same process. The extraction process in idea is simple, remove the water and other useless things from the plant leaving plant oil which is used for many things like bio fuel or dietary supplements. But the extraction process is not simple and is often difficult to achieve. But once the extract reaches this point it joins the other supplements in their journey to becoming a dietary supplement. Most supplement pills are bottled by automated machines that act like a assembely line. These supplement machines count each pill as they drop in the bottle, they put moisture absorbing packs and cotton for cushion and then screw the caps on. They then put plastic over the cap and heat it so it shrinks tightly around the cap forming a safe barrier from tampering. Labels are then applied to supplements with another machine which finishes the process.