Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


  1. How do I cite the DSLD in publications?
  2. What is the difference between a dietary supplement and a dietary ingredient?
  3. Who is responsible for ensuring dietary supplements are safe and effective?
  4. How are dietary supplement product labels selected for entry into the DSLD?
  5. How do I contact you or report errors?
  6. How do I submit labels to the DSLD?
  7. What are my options to search and download my search results?
  8. How do I search for products for a specific use or health condition?
  9. Can I save my search preferences so the site remembers my preferences the next time I visit the site?
  10. How do I download the full data set of DSLD?
  11. Is an API available for DSLD?

1. How do I cite the DSLD in publications?

Suggested Citation:

US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD). [Internet]. [cited (enter date)]. Available from: https://dsld.nlm.nih.gov/dsld/.

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2. What is the difference between a dietary supplement and a dietary ingredient?

The DSLD captures information printed on labels about the product (dietary supplement) and its contents (dietary ingredients). The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) defined a dietary supplement and permitted the addition of dietary ingredients if they meet the Act’s requirements (1) A dietary ingredient is a vitamin; a mineral; an herb or other botanical; an amino acid; a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing total dietary intake; or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of any of the above dietary ingredients. In contrast, a dietary supplement contains one or more dietary ingredients and is limited to products that are intended for ingestion in tablet, capsule, powder, softgel, gelcap, and liquid form, that are not represented as a conventional food or as the sole item of a meal or of the diet, and are labeled as dietary supplements.

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3. Who is responsible for ensuring dietary supplements are safe and effective?

The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe before they go to market. Unlike drugs, supplements are not permitted to be marketed for the purpose of treating, diagnosing, preventing, or curing diseases. That means supplements should not make disease claims, such as “lowers high cholesterol” or “treats heart disease.” Claims like these cannot be legitimately made for dietary supplements. Manufacturers are also required to produce dietary supplements in a quality manner and ensure that they do not contain contaminants or impurities, and are accurately labeled according to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) and labeling regulations. (see: What You Need to Know About Dietary Supplements. link to https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/what-you-need-know-about-dietary-supplements and https://ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/DS_WhatYouNeedToKnow.aspx)

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4. How are dietary supplement product labels selected for entry into the DSLD?

The goal of the DSLD is capture information extracted from labels for all products that meet the definition of a dietary supplement sold in the United States. Food or other nutrition products that are not labeled as dietary supplements are not included. However, there are some exceptions, these include products sold by prescription such as prenatal supplements and products were consumed by NHANES participants that are a source of nutrients, such as, antacids.

Labels in the DSLD are sourced primarily through a program where manufacturers submit labels on a periodic basis to the contractor that curates the database. The DSLD also sources labels of products reported in national surveys, such the National Health and Nutrition and Examination Survey, and labels that Federal partners would like to see incorporated in the database.

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5. How do I contact you or report errors?

If something is not working on DSLD, use the Contact Us link which can also be found at the top right of all pages to email us the problem.

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6. How do I submit labels to the DSLD?

Manufacturers are encouraged to submit inquiries for dietary supplement product inclusion to the Therapeutic Research CenterExiting NLM Site. Under contract with the NIH, the TRC engages manufacturers directly through its Manufacturers Connect program to obtain and subsequently maintain dietary supplement product labels.

Consumers can also submit inquiries for dietary supplement product inclusion to ODSComments@mail.nih.gov

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7. What are my options to search and download my search results?

There are currently five ways users can search for a label(s) in the DSLD. Details on how to search and download search results can be found on the How To Search page.

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8. How do I search for products for a specific use or health condition?

Dietary supplements in the United States are regulated as foods. Therefore, unlike drugs, supplements are not permitted to be marketed for the purpose of treating, diagnosing, preventing, or curing diseases. However, many individuals use dietary supplements for health reasons. Individuals who wish to use the DSLD to identify products marketed for these purposes, can use the Quick Search feature. Quick Search returns lists of products that contain the search term(s) anywhere on a label.

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9. Can I save my search preferences so the site remembers my preferences the next time I visit the site?

This feature is currently not available in the DSLD.

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10. How do I download the full data set of DSLD?

A full data set of DSLD is now downloadable via the following link: Full Data

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11. Is an API available for DSLD?

Release version 6.1 and later of the DSLD contains an implementation of a web application programming interface (API). The API offers 2 functions: an interface to the 'Quick Search' and the capability to get an individual label's information.

  1. Quick Search: This functionality is accessibly under /api/qsearch via an HTTP post. Either use a form variable 'searchterm' or supply a JSON object containing the search query term under the key 'searchterm'.
    Example: http://dsld.nlm.nih.gov/dsld/api/qsearch?searchterm=mega

    Output Contains: results from five searches for the term 'mega' which includes the labels (DSLD ID and name) associated for each of the quick searches performed. It is structured similarly to the quick search page where the first four sections search either the product, brand, ingredient, or contact names. The last section searches anywhere on the label, listing the text found along with the area in which the information was found in.

  2. Label Details: This functionality is accessibly under /api/label/ via an HTTP post. Append the id of the label requested to the url.
    Example: http://dsld.nlm.nih.gov/dsld/api/label/36924

    Output Contains: the details for label A.C. Grace Company - UNIQUE E(R) (DSLD ID: 36924).

The JSON output formats are not final at this time but are oriented to the output of the web application. At present, please inspect the returned JSON with a tool of your choice.

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