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ODS Strategic Plan 2017-2021

Office of Dietary Supplements Strategic Plan 2017-2021

ODS’s 5-year strategic plan is based on review and assessment of ODS program objectives and accomplishments in the context of ODS’s charge from Congress, stated mission, goals, and key emerging public health issues. The most recent strategic plan covered the 2017–2021 time period.

To ensure that ODS continues to fulfill its mission and meet its objectives while responding to emerging public health issues, ODS produces an annual strategic plan report to track accomplishments and responsiveness to current events. The annual report also provides transparency for the ODS stakeholder community. This report highlights program accomplishments from January - December 2019 and illustrates how ODS staff work together across their programs to meet ODS’s mission and goals.

Joseph Betz, Ph.D.,
Acting Director, Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institutes of Health

ODS Annual Report 2019

I. Introduction to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS)

The ODS was created at a time of high public and congressional interest in health maintenance and wellness, in particular the concept that nutrients and other natural substances provided as dietary supplements might offer benefits to health beyond basic nutrition. Since 1962, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken an active role in overseeing and regulating the production and marketing of dietary supplements. Its activities led Congress in 1976 to prohibit FDA from limiting the potency of vitamins and minerals in dietary supplements or regulating them as drugs based on their potency. Nutrition labels on packaged foods became required in 1990, and certain health claims that could be made for these products were permitted. Related questions about the labeling of dietary supplements and concerns that the FDA might regulate supplements as drugs led Congress to pass the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. Dietary supplements were classified as a special category of food, and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was directed to establish an Office of Dietary Supplements within the National Institutes of Health.

The legislation directed that “The purposes of the Office are

  1. to explore more fully the potential role of dietary supplements as a significant part of the efforts of the United States to improve health care.
  2. to promote scientific study of the benefits of dietary supplements in maintaining health and preventing chronic disease and other health-related conditions.”

The duties of the Director of ODS are to 

  1. conduct and coordinate scientific research within the NIH relating to dietary supplements and the extent to which the use of dietary supplements can limit or reduce the risk of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, birth defects, osteoporosis, cataracts, or prostatism;
  2. collect and compile the results of scientific research relating to dietary supplements, including scientific data from foreign sources or the Office of Alternative Medicine;
  3. serve as the principal advisor to the Secretary and to the Assistant Secretary for Health and provide advice to the Director of the NIH, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Commissioner of Food and Drugs on issues relating to dietary supplements including (A) dietary intake regulations; (B) the safety of dietary supplements; (C) claims characterizing the relationship between (i) dietary supplements and (ii)(I) prevention of disease or other health-related conditions and (II) maintenance of health; and (D) scientific issues arising in connection with the labeling and composition of dietary supplements;
  4. compile a database of scientific research on dietary supplements and individual nutrients; and
  5. coordinate funding relating to dietary supplements for the NIH.

Since its inception in 1995, a year after DSHEA was passed, the mission of ODS has been to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, stimulating and supporting research, disseminating research results, and educating the public to foster an enhanced quality of life and health for the U.S. population. In addition to the original purpose and duties prescribed in DSHEA, over the years Congress has mandated that ODS take on additional specific ODS programs including: 

  • Developing a botanical research center initiative (Centers for Advancing Research on Botanical and Other Natural Products [CARBON]) (1999)
  • Conducting evidence-based reviews of the efficacy and safety of dietary supplements (2001)
  • Accelerating the validation of analytical methods and reference materials (AMRM) for dietary supplements (2001)
  • Supporting the development of a dietary supplement label database (DSLD) (2003)

The responsibilities delineated by DSHEA and additional mandates are directly addressed by at least one of the four main ODS goals presented in Exhibit 1. 

Exhibit 1: ODS Goals
Goal 1:  Expand the scientific knowledge base on dietary supplements by stimulating and supporting a full range of biomedical research and by developing and contributing to relevant initiatives, workshops, meetings, and conferences.
Goal 2: Enhance the dietary supplement research workforce through training and career development.
Goal 3: Foster development and dissemination of research resources and tools to enhance the quality of dietary supplement research.
Goal 4: Translate dietary supplement research findings into useful information for consumers, health professionals, researchers, and policymakers.

Priority setting is a dynamic process within ODS that considers public health needs and knowledge gaps as well as changing trends in the dietary supplement marketplace (with its more than 100,000 products and thousands of ingredients) and consumer use of these products. Key questions are used to determine what new initiatives are needed and how the work should be approached. These questions include:

  • What is the nature of the public health issue? Is the intake of a nutrient or other supplement ingredient too low or too high? What is the evidence?
  • How are nutritional status and bioavailable levels of dietary supplement metabolites measured? Are there concerns about the reliability of the measures?
  • What is the evidence on the health effects of dietary supplements? What levels of dietary supplements influence the observed effects?
  • How should ODS and the research community identify and fill the gaps in knowledge?
  • How should ODS and its partners translate the results of research for policymakers, clinicians, and the public?

Priority setting is directly related to the greater ODS grant co-funding and administrative supplement program. ODS staff routinely review dietary supplement research reports, market trends, public inquiries, and media sources to identify priority areas and knowledge gaps.

Because ODS is restricted from issuing requests for applications (RFAs) it must depend on collaborations with institutes, centers, and offices (ICOs) that have their own priorities for grant co-funds and administrative supplements. ODS staff rely on interactions with ICOs to set research priorities and monitor dietary supplement research expenditures by other ICOs through NIH portfolio databases to identify promising areas of collaboration. In addition, ODS staff work with ICO program staff to develop and contribute to relevant workshops and to share key findings from various meetings. Lastly, through close communication and interactions with the greater NIH staff and with the ODS-sponsored Federal Working Group on Dietary Supplements, ODS staff develop insights into emerging public health issues related to dietary supplements.

Once established, ODS programs and initiatives undergo periodic evaluations and lifecycle assessments. Programs are sunset when workshops or portfolio analyses indicate that needs have been met or priorities have shifted. Exhibit 2 presents the array of research areas funded by ODS in FY2019.

Exhibit 2:
ODS Co-Funded Grants in FY2019 by Research Area
(59 grants valued at $10.4M across 13 NIH ICs)


The Category Breakout of ODS Co-Funded Grants in FY2019 with a portfolio total value of $10.4M was divided as follows: CARBON Program, 40%, Other Botanicals, 8%; Calcium, 2%; Fatty Acids, 7%; General Nutrition, 4%, Iron, 2%; Minerals, 3%; Other Supplements, 13%; Other Vitamins, 13%; Probiotics, 2%; Protein, 1%; Vitamin D, 5%.

II.  Innovation and Collaboration

As the lead federal entity addressing the scientific exploration of dietary supplements, ODS continues to advance the research agenda and knowledge base. The key to ODS’s success is the balance it achieves between its roles as a facilitator of research, developer of resources, trainer of researchers, collaborator with academics and federal and other agencies, and communicator of existing and new knowledge.

The following are four examples of how ODS staff worked together across programs and activities to achieve the overall mission and goals as stated above.

Stimulating Research: The Administrative Supplements Program

female scientist

ODS supports research on dietary supplements in collaboration with many NIH ICOs. The ODS Administrative Supplements Program allows ODS to increase the visibility and performance of dietary supplement research and its relevance within existing ICO research portfolios. Specifically, the program helps principal investigators holding active grants expand the scope of their NIH-funded research to investigate health effects of dietary supplements by providing 1-year awards of up to $100,000 to increase the focus on dietary supplements within the scope of their NIH-funded award. A 2019 evaluation of the program indicated its positive impact on furthering dietary supplement research and helping researchers better understand the value of product integrity and method validation in enhancing rigor and reproducibility of their research.

In response to the evaluation, ODS expanded its existing outreach and communication strategies to ensure research priorities are clearly articulated and the program processes are increasingly efficient. This included

  • a revised list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about what ODS will and will not support and a description of what is expected to be included in a grant proposal (;
  • a video-recorded webinar on ODS funding opportunities for the extramural research community (;
  • the inclusion of product integrity requirements in all ODS-initiated Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs); and
  • the elimination of a cap on the number of funding requests that can be submitted for consideration per ICO.

Collaboration and Coordination: Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group

NIH logo

Historically, ODS has coordinated with ICOs including other Office of the Director (OD) Coordinating Offices to accomplish the office’s mission of coordinating research on dietary supplements across NIH and other agencies and to leverage those collaborations to expand and enhance biomedical research on dietary supplements. These collaborations include

  • funding research through programs such as the ODS Administrative Supplement Program and the ODS Scholars, CARBON, and AMRM Programs;
  • active participation in work groups and committees organized by NIH ICOs and others;
  • inclusion of other NIH ICO staff in ODS-led work groups, forums, etc.;
  • review and sharing of best practices and standard operating procedures (SOPs) with other OD offices or ICOs; and
  • invitations to NIH ICO directors and strategic stakeholders to comment on the mid-course review or participate in stakeholder strategic planning meetings that occur prior to the development of a strategic plan.
A notable example of ODS’s coordination and collaboration activities is the trans-NIH Resilience Working Group established by ODS in 2019. With members actively participating  from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), ODS, National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), the working group was convened to help strengthen collaborations among NIH ICOs by focusing on well-informed, targeted priorities related to studies of resilience at NIH. The working group, led by ODS, hosted a trans-NIH resilience retreat with 45 representatives from more than half of the invited ICOs participating to collaboratively develop research strategies and build a network among NIH researchers working on resilience; short-term goals will be published in a white paper.

Rigor and Reproducibility: Product Integrity

assorted dietary supplement pills

Dietary supplements commonly contain mixtures of vitamins, minerals, and/or other natural products such as botanical constituents. Even supplements marketed as having a single active ingredient may be complex preparations, like a Ginkgo biloba extract containing numerous chemical compounds or a unique formulation of SAMe purporting enhanced bioavailability. In addition to this complexity, there are tens of thousands of supplement products available in the U.S. market. Dietary supplements used in biomedical investigations must therefore be rigorously identified and characterized to know exactly what is being studied. The end product of this characterization process is assurance of product integrity. Critical parameters of product integrity must include the source, identity, composition, purity, and stability of the dietary supplement that is being investigated. ODS works with all its collaborators and funding recipients to assure the product integrity of dietary supplements under investigation has been carefully considered and appropriately documented to ensure experimental rigor and enhance research reproducibility.

Translating Science: ODS Public Inquiry Program

Through the Public Inquiry Program, ODS responds to a variety of questions about dietary supplements from consumers, health professionals, researchers, members of the dietary supplement industry, and others. Individuals can reach ODS via a web form, email, phone, letter, or social media. Inquiries are forwarded to ODS experts who research and respond to each question. Most questions are answered within 1 to 2 days.

Since the program inception in 2004, ODS has responded to more than 5,000 inquiries, and the annual number has grown since 2016 when the “Ask ODS” feature was added to the ODS website and publicized via social media and ODS newsletters. During 2019, ODS responded to 567 inquiries. About 60% of these pertained to vitamins and minerals, with questions about their effectiveness, safety, appropriate dosages, absorption, quality, and medication interactions. Other questions pertained to herbs and botanicals, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, weight loss supplements, performance enhancement supplements, and other dietary supplement ingredients. Questions were also received about research and funding opportunities and website link requests, as well as regulatory matters, which were referred to the FDA.

In their responses, the ODS nutritionists do not give personal medical advice, but provide general information and links to pertinent resources such as the ODS dietary supplement fact sheets and databases; MedlinePlus; PubMed; and information from other NIH ICOs, the FDA, Federal Trade Commission, and other federal agencies. All comments and suggestions received through the public inquiry program are taken seriously and are sometimes used to update the ODS fact sheets. In 2019, for example, ODS communications staff updated the vitamin B6 fact sheet to include the potential use of B6 in patients receiving levetiracetam (a medication used to treat epilepsy) and the iron fact sheet to include new information on iron deficiency anemia. Both updates were a result of feedback received through the public inquiry program.

III.  ODS Accomplishments

The ODS Strategic Plan 2017–2021 provides a detailed description of each of the ODS programs and activities. While satisfying different goals, programs tend to have overlapping areas of focus, and the collaborative nature of ODS staff helps to build strong connections within ODS, NIH, federal agencies, academic institutions, and other stakeholders within the dietary supplement community.

ODS staff focus efforts on initiating collaborations across government and constituent communities that are key to fulfilling the ODS mission. Exhibit 3 describes ODS’s extramural vehicles used to achieve its mission. The value of ODS’s efforts is evident in its ability to engage and manage the wide range of expertise required to accomplish its goals.

The Category Breakout of ODS Co-Funded Grants in FY2019 with a portfolio total value of $10.4M was divided as follows: CARBON Program, 40%, Other Botanicals, 8%; Calcium, 2%; Fatty Acids, 7%; General Nutrition, 4%, Iron, 2%; Minerals, 3%; Other Supplements, 13%; Other Vitamins, 13%; Probiotics, 2%; Protein, 1%; Vitamin D, 5%.

The following are key 2019 ODS accomplishments as they reflect ODS’s strategic plan goals.

GOAL 1: Expand the scientific knowledge base on dietary supplements by stimulating and supporting a full range of biomedical research and by developing and contributing to relevant initiatives, workshops, meetings, and conferences.

Grant Funding Program

  • ODS co-funded 59 grants valued at $10.4 million across 13 NIH ICOs.
  • ODS funded, through Intra-Agency Agreements, 6 ODS Scholar’s Projects valued at $450K across 5 NIH Institutes.


  • ODS supports the CARBON Program, run jointly by ODS and the NCCIH. The CARBON Program supported work that resulted in 13 publications in peer-reviewed literature.


  • ODS staff collaborate with the CDC to evaluate the value of serum thyroglobulin as a marker of iodine status.
  • ODS staff are working with FDA and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) staff to analyze iodine values in foods using data from a cohort within NHANES 2014 that provided food intake along with samples of 24-hour urine collections. These samples are analyzed for iodine and compared to serum measures of thyroid hormones and thyroid status indicators including thyroglobulin.
  • In collaboration with Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) staff, ODS released a Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) titled “Understanding the Biology of Iodine Nutrition, Assessment, and Outcomes” to stimulate research using a range of disciplines and approaches to address gaps in our knowledge of the functional impact of iodine nutrition.

Population Research

pills multicolor

  • ODS staff provided input and funding for a pilot test obtaining blood samples from NHANES participants younger than 12 months of age.
  • ODS staff collaborated with CDC’s Division of Laboratory Sciences laboratory to publish two papers—one on folate status in the population with a focus on women of reproductive ages and another on folate forms used by the population with a focus on age and ethnic differences.
  • ODS-supported new NHANES analyses are under way to evaluate the relationship between vitamin D status and cognition, particularly in older adults.
  • ODS staff collaborated on writing a review of a conference on biomarkers for the journal Omics.
  • ODS has continued to contribute to the understanding of the microbiome through various collaborative mechanisms including:
    • Funding five administrative supplements and two ODS scholar grants related to the microbiome; presenting at universities and the North American Microbiome Conference;
    • Participating in three trans-NIH and trans-federal working groups on the microbiome; serving on the gut microbiome committee for International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) North America;
    • Helping to organize a workshop with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) focused on the development of reference materials for fecal metabolite analysis; and
    • Serving as a government liaison for the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) probiotic expert panel.
  • ODS staff collaborated with outside investigators on a recently published article about total usual micronutrient intakes compared to the dietary reference intakes among U.S. adults from food security status.
  • ODS staff participate in the NIH Obesity-Diet and Nutrition Task Force meetings for the NIH Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) and provide input on their current analysis plans.
  • To obtain more data for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, ODS staff co-lead the Federal Data Consortium of the multi-agency Birth to 24 Months Initiative with CDC, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health at HHS. As part of the Birth to 24 Months Initiative, ODS staff contributed to the Human Milk Initiative by participating in planning and implementing new analyses of milk composition.
  • ODS staff published articles on dietary supplement use during pregnancy and lactation and among infants and toddlers. They also participated in the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) workshop, “Nutrition During Pregnancy and Lactation: Reexamining the Evidence.”
  • ODS staff continue work on dietary supplement use during pregnancy, lactation, and infancy through various collaborations and publications. ODS provided funding to the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at CDC for a study titled “Infant Feeding Practices III” that is collecting dietary supplement data for mothers during lactation and for offspring for the first 2 years.
  • ODS provides input and support to the NASEM for a new project, “Feeding Recommendations for Infants and Young Children under Age 2: Scoping Existing Guidelines.”
  • ODS staff participated in numerous forums and worked collaboratively with NIH ICOs and external researchers on nutrition, frailty, and aging.
  • ODS staff worked with staff at the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Service’s Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey to add new survey content including measured height, measured weight, grip strength, dietary supplement use, and malnutrition.
  • ODS staff coauthored poster sessions and publications on dietary supplement contributions to total intake among U.S. adults.
  • ODS staff published numerous articles on methodological issues related to assessment of supplement use in epidemiologic and other study designs, on scientific integrity, current and novel laboratory methods to measure supplement usage, and nutritional status for individual ingredients in supplements.

Resilience and Health Studies

  • ODS staff established a Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group with 12 active members representing NCI, NINR, NCCIH, ODS, NIA, NHLBI, NIMHD, and others. The working group developed an operational definition of resilience that was further refined at a trans-NIH resilience retreat, “Defining a Trans-NIH Resilience Research Agenda.” Another retreat goal included identifying tools and mechanisms for addressing the challenges of a trans-NIH resilience research agenda and to encourage collaborations among ICOs working on resilience research.
  • ODS staff are working with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Center for Health and Military Performance on dietary ingredients to minimize environmental heat injury.
  • ODS staff have published and presented results from an expert panel forum, “The vitamin D paradox in Black Americans: a systems-based approach to investigating clinical practice, research, and public health.”
  • ODS has an interagency agreement with the Veterans Administration (VA) to jointly examine the electronic health records of approximately 17 million VA patients to capture a possible association between the incidence of heart failure and magnesium supplementation/status among the veteran population.


workshop attendees
  • ODS co-sponsored “Examining Special Nutritional Requirements in Disease States: A Workshop.” The workshop was organized by a NASEM ad hoc committee and focused on the evidence for special nutritional requirements in disease states and medical conditions that cannot be met with a normal diet.
  • ODS co-sponsored the Workshop for the Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium with an ad hoc committee of NASEM. The workshop focused on the physiology of sodium and potassium in the kidney and vascular system as well as methodology issues related to measuring sodium and potassium intake.
  • ODS co-sponsored a Food Forum hosted by NASEM. The forum titled “Nutrigenomics and the Future of Nutrition” focused on the application of nutrigenomics as a potential tool to better integrate population-based and personalized dietary guidance. The interrelationships of diet, genomics, and health outcomes with respect to chronic disease endpoints were discussed.
  • ODS and the NCCIH co-sponsored The NIH CARBON Program Annual Meeting. The CARBON Program comprises 3 Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Centers (BDSRC) and 2 Centers for Advancing Natural Products Innovation and Technology (CANPIT). Highlighted presentations included Botanicals and Metabolic Resiliency, Dietary Botanicals in the Preservation of Cognitive and Psychological Resilience, Botanical Dietary Supplements for Women’s Health, High-Throughput Functional Annotation of Natural Products, and Natural Products Technologies.
  • ODS, in collaboration with the FDA, the USDA, NCI, NCCIH, NIA, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and Office for Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) sponsored a workshop titled “Enhancing Natural Product Clinical Trials.” The workshop brought together trans-disciplinary experts who engaged in discussions of good practices for rigor in obtaining, reporting, interpreting, and assessing foundational data for natural product clinical trials (NPCT) as well as for NPCT decision-making and design. Thirty-two of the workshop participants published a “highlights” paper on the workshop online in the FASEB Journal.
  • ODS and the International Society for the Development of Research on Magnesium (SDRM) co-sponsored the XV International Magnesium Symposium: Magnesium in Health and Disease. The meeting stimulated discussions spanning the molecular mechanisms of magnesium to epidemiology and clinical data.
  • ODS staff participated in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Workshop on the Physiology of the Weight Reduced State. Topics discussed at the workshop included neural and endocrine regulation and the integration of homeostatic and hedonic pathways, metabolic adaptation/adaptive thermogenesis and tissue-specific roles and mechanisms, and strategies for understanding the physiology of the weight reduced state.
  • ODS staff participated in planning a workshop hosted by NIDDK titled, “NIH Workshop on Metabolic Interactions between Folic Acid Excess and Vitamin B12 Deficiency.”
  • ODS staff hosted a Pre-Application Webinar on ODS Administrative Supplements. An estimated 60 people participated, with just fewer than 40 indicating an academic or research institution affiliation. Subsequently the webinar was made available on the ODS website.

GOAL 2: Enhance the dietary supplement research workforce through training and career development.

Grant Funding

  • Among the 59 FY2019 co-funded grants, ODS funded 8 applications for the 2019 ODS Scholars Program, along with 25 administrative supplements and 2 single laboratory validation administrative supplements. These funding mechanisms allow investigators, including junior scientists, to expand the scientific scope of their NIH-funded projects to include studies related to dietary supplements.
  • ODS staff have discussed funding opportunities while visiting universities, during the Nutrition 2019 meeting, and at the Food Policy Impact Conference.


  • The CARBON program contributed directly to the training of 21 postdoctoral fellows and 7 graduate students from May 2018 through May 2019.

Dietary Supplement Research Practicum

Dr Betz speaking at practicum
  • ODS again offered its Dietary Supplement Research Practicum, a 2.5-day course to provide fundamental knowledge of dietary supplements attended by 113 academic faculty, Ph.D. students, and postdoctoral fellows; healthcare practitioners; and other professionals with advanced biomedical degrees. Topics covered included supplement use in the United States and reasons for use; the regulatory framework governing supplements; differences in bringing foods, drugs, and supplements to the market; supplement quality; assessing the health effects of foods and supplements; and developing science-based policies and advice about supplement use.


  • Through the AMRM program ODS is supporting, mentoring, or providing technical guidance to five postdoctoral researchers at NIST. 

GOAL 3: Foster development and dissemination of research resources and tools to enhance the quality of dietary supplement research.


  • The CARBON Program supported the development of three new methods. The first is a method for purifying different flavone glycosides, a prerequisite for determining whether different glycosides have different biological activities. The second is a set of methods for turmeric extract preparations with very different chemistries, a prerequisite for determining which turmeric components contribute to which biological activities. The last is an analytical method for quality control, using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to check the amino acid sequence and content of peptide drugs.


  • ODS continues to work with CDC and NCHS on biomarkers for iodine status and how best to measure them in pregnant women, infants and children, and other at-risk groups such as minorities and individuals with dietary habits that minimize intake of iodine-rich food sources.
  • ODS proposed an approach for estimation of dietary iodine intake (addressing contributions from foods, dietary supplements, and iodized salt) to the CDC/NCHS. This approach is now an active component of the 2019–2020 NHANES survey cycle. These intake data will be used to interpret data on biomarkers of iodine status.
  • An interagency Iodine Working Group (IWG) with quarterly conference call meetings was established. Agencies include ODS, Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH), NICHD, NCHS, CDC, NIST, FDA, USDA, and others. The IWG will provide a venue for collaborative discussions and project development, with CDC serving as the coordinating agency.
  • Through an Interagency Agreement with the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory, ODS contributes to development of a database on the iodine content of salt, foods, beverages, and dietary supplements. Activities are carried out in collaboration with FDA and CDC and include studies on the stability of iodine in table salt, measurement of iodine in commonly eaten foods, and assessment of the iodine content of standard dairy products and nondairy “milks” made from nuts, grains, or legumes. Outputs will include the addition of iodine values to the USDA Standard Reference Database, the Dietary Supplement Ingredient Database (DSID), and related databases used for NHANES and other surveys.


  • As part of an ongoing interagency collaboration between the ODS AMRM Program and NIST, ODS support permitted NIST scientists to develop new analytical methods for dietary supplements and allowed them to develop 7 newly issued or updated Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) as well as to maintain approximately 30 dietary supplement-specific matrix-based and SRMs throughout FY2019.
  • ODS expanded its efforts to accelerate production of Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) for dietary supplement ingredients, soliciting and awarding contracts for prioritized matrix-based and calibration solution CRMs.
  • Through the AMRM Program, ODS collaborates with NIST to develop CRMs and administer the Health Assessment Measurements Quality Assurance Program (HAMQAP) to enable laboratories to improve the accuracy of their analytical measurements of foods, dietary supplements, and biological samples. In 2019, HAMQAP directed two studies that collectively allowed research, industry, and testing labs to determine the reliability of their in-house analytical methods to quantify iodine in samples of table salt, a multivitamin/multivitamin supplement, and human serum and milk. NIST scientists also worked to add value to existing ODS-funded human serum reference materials by assigning certified and reference values for the concentrations of iodine, thyroglobulin, and thyroid hormones.
  • Ongoing collaboration between ODS and the USDA Methods and Food Composition Laboratory has spearheaded development of improved guidelines for the validation of methods to identify and authenticate botanical materials commonly used in dietary supplements.
  • ODS organized symposia at key stakeholder meetings and conferences that highlighted the AMRM-supported analytical resources and explained how their use can benefit both academic research and industry investment.
  • The AMRM-sponsored administrative supplements to NIH research grants allowed researchers to formally validate analytical methods to rigorously characterize chemical profiles of kratom products and to better understand the health effects of raspberry ketone metabolites.


supplement capsules
  • The DSLD added approximately 1,000 new labels per month, reaching 98,863 labels by the end of 2019. Of these, 61,054 are on market labels and 37,809 are off market. Labels were imported from NHANES (5,119) of which 3,573 were on market and 1,546 were off market. The DSLD is accessible through a website and mobile version.
  • ODS staff prepared 8 papers and presentations using DSLD data and planned a session on dietary supplements featuring the database for the National Nutrient Database Conference and will give 1 of the keynote speeches at the 2020 Conference.
  • ODS is working on a visualization project to improve the DSLD graphic interface for both the quick and advanced search results. In addition to a spreadsheet, search results will also be available in a graphic format.
  • The ODS DSLD team is pursuing a project involving label analysis for adult multivitamin and minerals, athletic performance, supplements for children, and other supplements of interest to consumers.
  • ODS staff have implemented a contract that will assess the nutrient content of dietary supplement products to determine how closely the content matches the dietary values specified by FDA and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) (now NASEM). Presented as a poster at the National Nutrient Database Conference in July 2018 the pilot study served as the basis for designing and launching the larger multivitamin and mineral project above.
  • To identify gaps in dietary intakes, ODS continues a project to compare adult multivitamin-mineral and prenatal supplement content to actual nutrient needs. Examples will be posted on the DSLD website for those who desire more information on specific types of supplements. ODS staff are also developing a case for use of prenatal supplements and for supplements making weight-loss claims, prebiotic and probiotic supplements, and fiber supplement claims.
  • ODS developed a pop-up survey for the DSLD website to collect feedback on its utility to researchers and consumer users.


  • ODS supported the Measuring of Proanthocyadin (PAC) Content and Performance Quality Testing of Commercial Cranberry Dietary Supplements Project associated with DSID.

Computer Access to Research on Dietary Supplements (CARDS)

Search CARDS
  • FY2018 CARDS dietary supplement-related projects were reviewed and coded and FY2019 dietary supplement-related projects were added to CARDS.
  • ODS staff continue to develop strategies to identify dietary supplement-related research funded by non-NIH federal agencies in Federal RePORTER for import into CARDS. CARDS search result data visualizations were updated and new ingredient and health outcome codes were added.
  • CARDS was used to identify intramural researchers doing work related to dietary supplements and nutrition funded by NIH to inform the development of workshops and publications. Topics included iodine, magnesium, ketones, and heart failure.

GOAL 4: Foster development and dissemination of research resources and tools to enhance the quality of dietary supplement research.


hands on a keyboard
  • In 2019, visits to the ODS website averaged more than 900,000 visits per month and nearly 1.5 million-page views per month.
  • ODS staff responded to 567 public inquiries in 2019; about two-thirds of these inquiries pertained to vitamins and minerals. This year’s public inquiries required the greatest number of responses since the public inquiry program began.
  • More than a dozen interviews were given by ODS experts in response to inquiries from a variety of consumer and health professional media outlets including, Newsday, and Science News.
  • At the end of 2019, ODS had 7,796 likes and 8,128 followers on Facebook representing an increase of 939 likes and 1,227 followers since the end of 2018.
  • ODS had 15,880 Twitter followers at the end of 2019, representing an increase of 1,280 followers since 2018.
  • ODS hosted 9 research investigators through its seminar series and an additional 3 workshops or expert panel meetings throughout the year.
  • ODS organized 2 meetings of the Federal Working Group on Dietary Supplements that included presentations and discussions on natural products research, the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Dietary Supplement Programs, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025, a systems-based approach to investigating the vitamin D paradox in Black Americans, ORWH programs, and climate change and global dietary needs.
  • The ODS communications team also participated in broader NIH-wide communications and nutrition groups including NIH Communications Directors, NIH Press Officers groups, the NIH Social Media Collaboration Team, the NIH Consumer Health Content Committee, Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) Communications Community, and the Nutrition Education Subcommittee of the Nutrition Research Coordinating Committee.
  • ODS communications products include 
    • The ODS Update (4,539 subscribers);
    • The Scoop (4,490 subscribers); and
    • Videos including 
      • Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know (34,233 views since posted online in June 2014), 
      • Thinking About Taking a Dietary Supplement? (28,716 views since posted online in May 2014), and
      • ¿Debería tomar suplementos dietéticos? (14,737 views since posted online in June 2014).
  • Along with numerous ODS-sponsored presentations, ODS staff presented 38 times at national and international workshops, meetings, and conferences and authored 28 staff publications between January and December 2019.