The Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus (DSC), in cooperation with the leading trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry—the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the Natural Products Association (NPA), and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA)—held an educational briefing, “Sports Health and Fitness: The Role of Dietary Supplements,” for Capitol Hill staff this week. This is the second DSC educational briefing for the 113th Congress and the 17th briefing since the DSC was formed in 2006.
The luncheon featured NFL wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. of the Arizona Cardinals, who is also the founder of the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund, and Ed Wyszumiala, general manager, NSF International’s Dietary Supplement Certification Programs.
Selected for the Pro Bowl seven times and ranked fourth in NFL history for receiving yards per game, Mr. Fitzgerald uses dietary supplements to help sustain the intense physical lifestyle that a professional athlete endures. “There are no shortcuts in life. As a professional athlete, being informed is paramount for me. When I see certifications on products, I know I am safe. It gives me peace of mind,” said Mr. Fitzgerald. “My body is my life. I do my research. As a professional athlete or amateur athlete, nutrition is extremely important.”
In speaking to the confidence that consumers like Mr. Fitzgerald get when seeing its certification seal on products’ labels, Mr. Wyszumiala emphasized NSF’s goal from the very start as being “to develop something that provides the highest level of integrity” as it relates to consumer safety. NSF’s certification programs—along with other third-party certification programs for the industry, like NPA GMP Certification—assist dietary supplement manufacturers with compliance and demonstrate to consumers that responsible companies produce healthful products, increasing their confidence in the science, safety and quality of dietary supplements that promote “better nutrition, and a better way of life.”
A third-party seal is just one verification that consumers can look for to ensure a product’s quality and safety. In response to a question from the audience, Mr. Wyszumiala added that consumers should look for reputable brand names, and most importantly, seek the counsel of their doctor or other healthcare practitioner before starting a new supplement regimen.
For the more than 60 attendees, the key takeaways included the significant role dietary supplements play in supporting the nutritional needs of active individuals and athletes, and the importance of good manufacturing practices, product certification and testing programs to help ensure safe dietary supplements for athletes and consumers.