A great wealth of plants and plant derived preparations are used in the intention to supplement the basic nutrition in order to sustain and promote health. They may be used directly or consumed as manufactured plant food supplements (PFS) in dosed form. The use of these plants may already have a long tradition as fruit, vegetable or (folk) medicinal plants. Due to globalisation, more and more plants originating from all over the world are now offered and marketed in European countries, including species from China, South Africa and the American continent. For reasons of security, EU wide lists of plants accepted or prohibited to be used in food supplements are in elaboration. A crucial point is the correct identification of the plant material. The identity can be assessed by morphological, chemical and DNA specific methods. The active substances usable in PFS are secondary plant products that are often characteristic for certain plant groups (taxa), species or plant parts. They comprise not only polyphenols, essential oils, carotenoids and phytosterols, but also glucosinolates or saponins. The quality of the plant material used for PFS depends on a variety of factors, including the natural phytochemical, intraspecific variation with the occurrence of chemotypes, the ontogenetic variation, the considered plant parts and environmental influences during plant growth. In the production of the raw materials for PFS international standards (good agricultural practice, fair trade) should be applied.
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