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Dietary Supplements

What are dietary supplements?

A dietary supplement is anything you add to your regular diet to improve your health or healing. They can include:

  • Vitamins

  • Minerals

  • Herbs

  • Homeopathic medicines

  • Some food products

Dietary supplements can be bought at grocery stores, health food stores, and pharmacies. They come in many forms, such as:

  • Pills

  • Capsules

  • Liquids

  • Meal replacement bars

  • Cookies

  • Powders

  • Elixirs

  • Teas

Who may need dietary supplements?

For most people, nutritional needs can be met by a balanced diet. Some people who may need supplements include:

  • Pregnant or nursing women
  • Young children or older adults
  • Vegetarians and vegans
  • People who need restricted diets
  • People who abuse alcohol
  • People who are ill or frail
  • Postmenopausal women

Dietary supplement safety

Taking large doses of supplements has not proven to be effective. In fact, it can be toxic. The National Institutes of Health does not advise taking vitamins or nutrients over the recommended daily allowances (RDAs).

Always check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements. Some may interfere with prescription medicines you take. Tell your provider what supplements you take and why. They can make sure your health concerns can be addressed.