The US Food and Drug Administration defines supplements as a supplement intended to increase its levels in the diet. These may include vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, or other plant-based substances. Over-the-counter supplements do not undergo the same formal approval process as prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The FDA does not require supplement manufacturers to submit their products to the FDA for review nor receive FDA approval before marketing. Companies must ensure they are not making false claims on the product label to mislead consumers. Some prescription supplements that have received formal FDA approval to treat various forms of nutritional imbalances.
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Cyanocobalamin is another name for vitamin B-12. It is manufactured as a liquid, injectable medication to treat pernicious anemia, a B-12 deficiency where the body cannot properly absorb B-12 in the stomach. When this happens, patients may experience nerve problems. Most patients need to take injections only once monthly to create enough vitamin B-12 in the body.
Folic acid is also available as an FDA-approved prescription medication. It is often used by the body for development of the spine and brain during pregnancy and to make proteins. The human body doesn't store large amounts of folic acid, and it is often prescribed to prevent birth defects and to treat folate deficiency.
Ergocalciferol is a prescription form of vitamin D given to help patients with low vitamin D levels due to rickets, low parathyroid or low phosphate levels. It is generally given in a weekly dose of 50,000 international units, or IU. Too much vitamin D affects the kidneys that leads to nausea, weight loss and constipation.
Potassium is an important mineral in the body necessary for proper nerve and muscle function. Potassium chloride is available to help patients with low potassium levels, particularly those who use water pills such as furosemide to decrease blood pressure. It is available in FDA-approved forms as an injectable medication and an oral, slow-release medication.