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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) characterizes all herbal, vitamin and mineral supplements (including diet pills) as "dietary supplements." Dietary supplements come in all shapes and sizes—pills, gel capsules, liquid and powder—and they can include any number of ingredients. Most often, supplements will be vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs or plants (also referred to as botanicals), or a mixture of these substances.

The tricky thing about dietary supplements is that they are not approved by the FDA before they go on the market. The FDA gives these supplements time on the shelves and stores, to see if consumers have any problems when they take them. Essentially, you are a "guinea pig" in a test lab when you buy and use these supplements. Of course, some supplements have been tested, so check out the label to make sure.

Beware of "miracle supplements." Any drugs advertised as producing "quick results" or "miracle cures" are probably not going to have the effect they say. Ask your doctor if you feel skeptical about any type of supplement you might want to try.

Some types of herbs are a part of complementary and alternative medicine treatments. Again, most of these herbal products have not been tested for health risks of for efficacy. Although many herbal products help some women, for example some herbal supplements are recommended for the relief of symptoms associated with menopause, none of the effects of these herbs have been scientifically proven.