Nutritional Supplements: History

Nutritional supplements are products of the 20th century that emerged out of a 19th-century entrepreneurial business model. Use of nutritional supplements—variously known as vitamins, herbals, botanicals, nutraceuticals, micronutrients, and dietary supplements—proliferated, and industry financial growth by 2014 reached $28 billion a year in the United States. Historically, science, government, business, and individual interests have contributed to conflicting fragmentation of nutritional supplement information over time. Although legal terminology changed from nutritional supplements to dietary supplements, they remain pharmacologically active substances with no consensus on what constitutes good nutrition, individual choice, or safety.

By the 17th century, European physicians observed relationships between disease and diet. In the 18th and 19th centuries, scurvy was cured by ingesting citrus juice, beriberi and pellagra were cured by expanding the respective polished ...

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