Eating healthy food is the best way to get the nutrients you need. However, some people don’t get enough vitamins and minerals from their daily diet. Dietary supplements may provide nutrients that might be missing from a person's daily diet.
It is important to talk with your doctor before taking any supplements. Some supplements can change how medicines you may already be taking will work.
Consider the following if you are thinking about using dietary supplements:
- Learn as much as you can about any dietary supplement you might take. Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or a registered dietitian. A supplement that seemed to help your family member or neighbor might not work for you.
- Tell your doctor or healthcare provider. They need to know if you decide to use a dietary supplement. Do not self-diagnose or treat any health condition without first checking with your doctor. Learn how medications can interact with dietary supplements.
- 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.
- Buy wisely. Choose brands that your doctor, dietitian, or pharmacist recommend. Do not buy dietary supplements with ingredients you don’t need. Don’t assume that more is always better, especially since some supplements may be dangerous at high levels. It is possible to waste money on unnecessary supplements.
- Check the science. 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.
The general rule remains that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It is also important to know that supplement manufacturers are not allowed to claim that their product can be used to “treat” medical conditions.