What is a food supplement?

Though poorly governed in the past, food supplements are now subject to strict and controlled regulations.

Definition of the European directive

Food supplements

Food supplements are governed by many laws. The founding text is the European directive of 10 June 2002 on the approximation of Member State laws concerning food supplements.

This directive defines food supplements as follows:

Food supplements are "foods whose purpose is to supplement a normal diet and constituting a concentrated source of nutrients or other substances with nutritional or physiological effect, either alone or in combination, marketed in dose form, i.e. presentation forms such as hard capsules, lozenges, tablets, pills and other similar forms, along with powder sachets, ampoules of liquid, bottles fitted with droppers and other analogous liquid or powder preparation forms intended to be taken in measured small amounts."


What are food supplements made from?

Food supplements can be comprised of various substances:

  • Vitamins, such as vitamin C for example,
  • Mineral salts, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium,
  • Trace elements, such as zinc, copper, chromium, iron and selenium,
  • Antioxidants such as flavonoids or carotenoids,
  • Essential fatty acids,
  • Amino acids, such as taurine or carnitine,
  • Along with many plants or their active principles...

Who are food supplements intended for?

Food supplements are intended for everyone who, for lifestyle-related or other reasons, wish to supplement their dietary intake of certain nutrients to help improve their well-being, thanks to safe and functional products suitable for modern life.
Dietary supplements are thus not intended to replace a healthy diet, but rather to complement balanced eating habits, for healthy individuals who wish to remain so.

What about regulations?

Since 14 June 2012, dietary supplements are subject to very strict new regulations aimed at protecting consumers.
This new regulation concerning health-related claims (regulation 432/2012) sets the list of authorised claims, along with their conditions of use per active substance.