A large number of men and women in the United States take one or more health supplements either every day or periodically. Today’s dietary supplements consist of vitamins, minerals, herbals and botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and many other products. Dietary supplements offered in a range of forms: traditional tablets, capsules, and powders, as well as drinks and energy bars. According to well-known supplements include vitamins D and E; minerals like calcium and iron; herbs such as echinacea and garlic; and specialized products like glucosamine, probiotics, and fish oils.



If you don’t eat a healthy variety of foods, some supplements might help you get sufficient volumes of vital nutrients. However, supplements can’t take the place of the range of foods that are essential to a well-balanced diet. Good sources of details on eating well include the Dietary Guidelines for American external link disclaimer and MyPlateexternal link disclaimer.

Medical confirmation shows that some dietary supplements are advantageous for overall health and for managing some health conditions. For example, calcium and vitamin D are essential for keeping bones strong and minimizing bone loss; folic acid decreases the risk of certain congenital disabilities, and omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils might help some people with heart disease. Additional supplements need more study to determine their value. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not identify whether dietary supplements are efficient before they are marketed.


Top quality

Dietary supplements are complicated products. The FDA has developed good manufacturing practices (GMPs) for dietary supplements to help guarantee their identity, purity, strength, and composition. These GMPs are designed to avoid the addition of the wrong ingredient, the addition of too much or too little of an ingredient, the chance of contamination, and the improper packaging and labeling of a product. The FDA routinely inspects locations that manufacture dietary supplements.

Also, some independent companies offer quality testing and allow items that pass these tests to display their seals of approval. These seals of favor provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain hazardous levels of contaminants. These seals of approval do not ensure that a product is safe or reliable. Organizations that offer this quality testing include:


U.S. Pharmacopeia
NSF International.


Talk with Your Health Care Provider

Let your healthcare providers (including doctors, pharmacists, and dietitians) know which dietary supplements you’re having so that you can talk about what’s best for your overall health. Your health care provider can help you identify which supplements, if any, might be important for you.


Keep a record of the supplements you take in one place, just as you should be doing for all of your medicines. Note the specific product name, the dose you take, how often you take it, and the reason why you use each one. You can also bring the products you use with you when you see your health care, provider.

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