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Other Substances

It is by no means only vitamins and minerals that are added to food supplements. Substances such as amino acids, fatty acids, dietary fibres and plant-based substances (e.g., plant extracts or plant ingredients) are also found in these products. Which "other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect" may be added to food supplements has not yet been regulated in detail.

Plant-based substances such as plant extracts or plant ingredients added to food supplements are also called "botanicals". Since food supplements containing botanicals are also regulated as food in the EU, they do not undergo an official authorisation procedure before being placed on the market - unlike herbal medicinal products (phytopharmaceuticals).

Those who eat a balanced and varied diet consume sufficient amounts of secondary plant compounds through fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. This can have a positive effect on health. However, the intake of isolated secondary plant compounds such as carotenoids, alkaloids or polyphenols via food supplements is not comparable to the intake of traditional plant foods. The bioavailability of plant compounds that are supplied in concentrated form, for example via capsules, can be considerably higher. Also, the effects of plant ingredients from traditional foods such as fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices are not transmissible 1:1 to preparations in supplements. In addition, the preparations are often comparatively high in dosage. Both at national and European level, there are currently no maximum quantity regulations for herbal ingredients in food supplements.

The risk assessment is complicated by the fact that the products often contain complex mixtures of different plant ingredients, very often also in variable proportions. Furthermore, there is often insufficient information about the composition of the products. In addition, many of the plant ingredients have not yet been sufficiently investigated and thus the data basis for a health risk assessment is limited.



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