While the 15-year-old agency’s core mission remains essentially the same – to educate the public by stimulating, evaluating and disseminating dietary supplements scientific research – it has registered four specific goals for the period until 2014.
- Provide intellectual leadership by fostering research to analyze and evaluate the role of dietary supplements in promoting health and reducing the risk of disease.
- Expand the general scientific knowledge base on dietary supplements by funding new research and training.
- Support the development of research tools for the study of dietary supplements.
- Make the most up-to-date scientific knowledge about dietary supplements publicly available.
“The vision of ODS is that consumers, health professionals, government officials, and other policy makers will have ready access to scientific information of the highest quality on the health effects of dietary supplements,” ODS said in its Strategic Plan.
“ODS will accomplish this by continually evaluating current science, identifying gaps in the knowledgebase, seeking relevant research strategies and tools to fill those gaps, and translating research into useful information.
“ODS will measure the results by the number of grants funded, research tools developed, information pieces written, initiatives and workshops developed by staff, and manuscripts published by staff.”
The ODS will engage in work to determine the efficacy and safety of dietary supplements and nutrients which may lead to recommendations regarding dietary reference intakes (DRIs) set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. Projects were already underway for calcium and vitamin D and the agency was working with “federal partners” on “other important nutrients of public health concern, such as folate and omega-3 fatty acids, that are used in supplements.”
Soy is another nutrient being researched.
Developing relevant biomarkers – something industry has been calling for as a means to better understand and conduct nutrition science – is another are of work the ODS has highlighted, with two workshops planned.
The ODS said it would work with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in expanding research and training in genetic, molecular, biochemical, cellular, metabolic, or physiological mechanisms underlying the actions of dietary supplements.
Other areas of research include:
- Cognitive and behavioral factors underlying the use of dietary supplements.
- Safety, efficacy, and effectiveness of dietary supplements, including bioavailability and drug interactions.
- Probiotic and prebiotic research
- Detecting contaminants
- Botanical identification
- Development of a web-based database of all dietary supplement labels in the US
- Development of fact sheets on dietary supplement ingredients
- Increase information to health care providers