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Vitamin and Mineral Supplements


Tell any health care provider you visit what supplements you take.

Everyone has his or her own vitamin and mineral needs. Your provider can help you choose the right supplement for you.

We need vitamins to live. We also need certain minerals. Together, these substances, which are naturally found in food, help our bodies grow and function. At times, adding vitamins and minerals to your diet can give your body a boost. But supplements alone can't provide all that you need to stay healthy. That’s why it’s best to eat a balanced diet.

Food sources of vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals are found in almost all foods. Yet each food has a unique makeup. That’s why it’s best to eat a balanced diet that includes all of the following:

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Whole grains and grain products (rice, breads, cereals, tortillas)

  • Low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese)

  • Lean meat, poultry, and fish; nuts or beans

Who might need a supplement?

Supplements can be helpful for people who have special nutritional needs. They may also help people who eat small amounts or limited types of foods. You might need a supplement if you fall under one or more of the following:

  • I rarely eat a balanced diet. (A balanced diet includes vegetables, fruits, dairy, and grain products. It also includes protein foods, such as meats, eggs, and beans.)

  • I am pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • I am a vegetarian or vegan.

  • I am often on a diet of less than 1,600 calories.

  • I can't eat certain types of foods.

  • I am age 50 or older.

  • I have dental or health problems that limit my diet.

  • I am in poor health or recovering from an illness or injury.

If you take supplements

  • Read the label to find out which vitamins and minerals a product contains. Make sure the product won't expire soon.

  • Store supplements in a cool, dry place, away from sun and heat.

  • Take supplements with food or at bedtime to help prevent nausea.

  • Eat a balanced diet to get all the nutrients your body needs.

  • Remember that the FDA doesn’t test dietary supplements for quality. Look for supplements that have been independently tested for quality. These will have a seal of approval from U.S. Pharmacopeia,, or NSF International. These seals don’t guarantee a product is safe or effective. But they do guarantee that it has the ingredients listed on the label and doesn’t contain contaminants.


Online Medical Reviewer: Averett, Jennifer, RD
Online Medical Reviewer: Topiwala, Shehzad, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 5/11/2015
© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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