2 Answers 2


They are allowed only if the question itself does not focus on the nutritional content of the supplement, and the question is related to preparation of food.

That is, ask "if the nutritional supplement were taken out of this question, would it still be a question?" If the answer is "no", it's probably off-topic.

So, as an example, "I'm adding spinach extract to the vegan dishes to increase iron content, how do I disguise the taste?" would be on-topic and allowed. But "Should I add spinach extract to a vegan diet?" would not be, because it is a request for nutritional advice.

I'll also point out that the first two questions you link are not about dietary supplements. The third, which is, is from 2010 and probably would closed on the site today -- we've gotten stricter about enforcing on/off topic, mostly because we got flooded with health advice questions. See comments on that question that it ought to be closed.



The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act defines dietary supplements as a category of food.

I would say yes, they are on topic.

  • 2
    ...as long as the question doesn't focus on the health aspects of the supplement
    – Luciano
    Nov 11, 2021 at 10:48
  • 1
    This is not a satisfactory argument for what is on-topic at an SE site. The IOC considers chess a sport that could be competed for; Sports SE has determined it is not a sport and therefore off-topic, regardless.
    – Nij
    Nov 27, 2021 at 21:59
  • @Nij I take your point that 'food' is defined differently depending on who you ask. But I'd challenge you to find an entity whose definition explicitly excludes supplements, or even one which excludes just the most common supplements (like protein sources, nutrient sources, oil sources). If we use our imaginations and ignore the 3 other meanings given on The Free Dictionary, we could argue that "3. Nourishment eaten in solid form" would exclude liquid supplements. But I think ultimately it's ignoring the simple fact that supplements is just an cont
    – stevec
    Nov 28, 2021 at 0:21
  • arbitrary human delineation between broad (but ambiguous and overlapping) categories of foods.
    – stevec
    Nov 28, 2021 at 0:23
  • My point is that it doesn't matter who defines what elsewhere. The question is whether it is on- or off-topic here. Taking definitions from other sources, even credible and relevant ones, on what is or is not (the preparation of) food does not make that decision. Only the community here can. Merely saying "these people think it's food" is pointless in this situation.
    – Nij
    Nov 28, 2021 at 0:27
  • @Nij The tour page directs users to "Ask about ... food preparation methods ... food handling and storage". That's why the definition of 'food' matters. The site already has rules for what can and cannot be discussed, and 'food' (and therefore supplements) is currently on topic. You may be confusing this question for something like "Should SA change on-topic questions to include/exclude xyz". That's different. This question asks whether supplements are on topic, and they appear to be according to the tour page and most definitions of 'food'.
    – stevec
    Nov 28, 2021 at 0:36
  • As the answer by FuzzyChef demonstrates, even that is too simplistic and ignorant a reasoning. "Supplements are on-topic" is a universal statement which is not true, and which your answer has made, and attempts to support using irrelevant information.
    – Nij
    Nov 28, 2021 at 0:38
  • @Nij As explained above, supplements are (for the most part) a subset of food, and food is on topic. It's that simple. The only part my answer omits is that 'food' is on topic on SA, which I thought was obvious.. If you need more contextual information like that which FuzzyChef has provided, I suggest commenting on their answer and requesting it, or even do some research and share it here as another answer. To me, spending time on that is not necessary since the answer is already crystal clear.
    – stevec
    Nov 28, 2021 at 0:48
  • Again, universal statements that are not true, are not valid. It is very clearly not "that simple" or the question would not be necessary. "The answer" may be crystal clear to you, but that answer (as represented by this post) is also clearly wrong.
    – Nij
    Nov 28, 2021 at 1:11
  • @Nij I hear you, and agree with you that this answer could be more nuanced and robust, could give more definitions of 'food' (making sure they're unbiased, not cherry picked), and could give specific examples of questions demonstrating what's on/off topic. Nothing stops anyone else (including you) doing this! The point of my answer is: just because a food happens to also be considered a supplement doesn't mean it's suddenly off topic, in fact, in most cases it's probably perfectly on-topic, subject to it meeting the other site rules.
    – stevec
    Nov 28, 2021 at 1:39
  • @Nij another way to think about it: imagine if instead of asking about 'supplements', that the question's author instead asked about 'porridge'. We could write a 17 page essay on why porridge is on topic, giving specific cases where it is and isn't (e.g. even though we say 'porridge' is on topic, it doesn't mean the comedy series 'Porridge' is on topic here) etc etc etc. But we could instead take a simpler approach stating that porridge is, for the most part, a food, and therefore it's (generally, but not universally) on topic. The latter is the approach I used.
    – stevec
    Nov 28, 2021 at 1:44

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