Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

What is a "dietary supplement"?

A dietary supplement is any product that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to add to the diet. These ingredients may be any of the following substances:

  • a vitamin,
  • a mineral,
  • an herb or other botanical,
  • an amino acid, or
  • a substance such as an enzyme.


FDA considers dietary supplements to be foods instead of drugs. Each must be labeled as a dietary supplement and have a "Supplement Facts" label. Doctors may prescribe prenatal vitamins and mineral supplements. When a supplement is ordered by prescription it is regulated as a drug, not a food.