The Marketing of Dietary Supplements: A Canadian Perspective

Norman J. Temple

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Dietary supplements are widely used in Canada. This paper presents an overview of commonly-used supplements, including their purported health benefits, as well as the best current evidence as to the accuracy of these claims. Types of supplements discussed include herbal products, glucosamine, chondroitin, weight-loss products, and exotic fruit juices. The paper also discusses possible harmful side effects from various supplements, especially herbal products. It then examines the major methods by which supplements are marketed, including health food stores (HFS), pharmacies, and supermarkets; newspaper, magazine, and TV advertising; and multilevel marketing. Most of the marketing of supplements is concentrated on products that are expensive but where supporting evidence is quite weak, and misleading and dishonest marketing strategies and claims are widespread problems. Dietary supplements are regulated in Canada by the Natural Health Products Directorate, an agency of the federal government. The new regulations came into force in 2004, but misleading and dishonest marketing is still widespread.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-173
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Nutrition Reports
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec. 2013


  • Advertising
  • Health food stores
  • Herbs
  • Marketing methods
  • Multilevel marketing
  • Supplements


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