All of the vitamins are used as specific treatments for their respective deficiency diseases. The dosages required will vary depending on the severity of the disease and the vitamin. Vitamins have also been used like drugs to "treat" diseases. However, unlike drug products, vitamins are not reviewed by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration before formulations appear on the market. Vitamins are considered to be dietary supplements under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). Vitamins and other dietary supplements are not permitted to be marketed as a treatment or cure for a specific disease or condition unless the vitamin is approved as a drug for that purpose. However, under DSHEA, supplement manufacturers may make health claims, such as the link between a food substance and a disease or health-related condition. This may make it difficult for patients to assess the need for vitamin supplementation.
Legitimate clinical research is being conducted with vitamins in many areas including heart disease, ophthal-mological disease, neurocognitive function, and derma-tological diseases. It is important for physicians to be aware of scientific information that either supports or refutes a role for vitamins in the maintenance of health or in the avoidance of disease.
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