Dietary supplements

Eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to get the nutrients you need.

by the National Institute on Aging

Dietary supplements are substances you might use to add nutrients to your diet. They might contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, herbs or other plants, or enzymes. Most of the time eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to get the nutrients you need. However, some people don’t get enough vitamins and minerals from their daily diet. Your doctor or health team can tell you if you need to take something extra that might be missing from your daily diet.

If you are thinking about using dietary supplements:

Find out as much as you can about any dietary supplement you might take. Talk with your doctor, your pharmacist, or a registered dietitian. A supplement that seemed to help your neighbor might not work for you. If you are reading fact sheets or checking websites, be aware of the source of the information. Read more about choosing reliable health information websites.

Just because something is said to be “natural” doesn’t mean it is safe or good for you. It could have side effects. It might make a medicine your doctor prescribed for you either weaker or stronger. It could also be harmful to you if you have certain medical conditions.

Your doctor needs to know if you decide to use a dietary supplement. Do not diagnose or treat any health condition without first checking with your doctor. Learn how medications can interact with dietary supplements. For more information, visit the National Center for Complementary and

Integrative Health.

Choose brands that your doctor, dietitian, or pharmacist recommend. Don’t buy dietary supplements with ingredients you don’t need. Don’t assume that more is better. It is possible to waste money on unneeded supplements.

Make sure any claim about a dietary supplement is based on scientific proof. The company making the dietary supplement should be able to send you information on the safety and/or effectiveness of the ingredients in a product, which you can then discuss with your doctor. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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