ingredients are those ingredients in a drug,
vitamin or dietary
supplement which cause an intended effect in the body.
Other ingredients such as flavoring, coloring, preservatives
and other substances that are not related to the intended
effect are called inactive ingredients.
For example, one tablet of a pain reliever
may contain 200-500 mg of an active ingredient such as aspirin,
The remainder of the tablet (often much of the pill's volume)
is made up of other inactive ingredients that are not involved
in pain relief. It is only the amount of active ingredient,
not the size of the tablet, which determines how much "medicine"
is in the pill. Thus, two different brands of pain reliever
which each contain 350 mg of ibuprofin per tablet contain
the same amount of active ingredient, regardless of any differences
in pill size or appearance.
The form a drug or supplement takes can
affect how easily the active ingredient is absorbed into your
body, with liquids and inhalants typically entering the bloodstream
faster than pills which must dissolve in the stomach before
being released into the bloodstream.
Some drugs and supplements contain inactive
ingredients such as sugar, lactose, sodium and alcohol. Although
these are not "active ingredients" in the sense of contributing
to the intended effect of a drug or supplement, these substances
can indeed affect the body, and it is important to be aware
of inactive ingredients if you are under any kind of dietary
or medical restrictions.
Both active and inactive ingredients should
be listed on the product label.
by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain