Choosing and using supplements
If you decide to take a vitamin or mineral supplement, it's important to:
- Talk to your doctor. Supplements can cause harmful effects if taken in certain combinations, with certain prescription medications or before surgery or other medical procedures.
- Check the label. Product labels can tell you what the active ingredient or ingredients are, which nutrients are included, the serving size and the amount of nutrients in each serving.
- Watch what you eat. Vitamins and minerals are being added to a growing number of foods, including breakfast cereals and beverages. If you're also taking supplements, you may be getting more than you realize of certain nutrients. Taking more than you need is expensive and can raise your risk of side effects.
- Avoid megadoses. Taking more than the recommended daily values (DVs) can increase your risk of side effects. Children are especially vulnerable to overdoses of vitamins and minerals.
Keep up with supplement safety alerts
Being sold in the marketplace doesn't make a supplement safe or effective.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) keeps a list of dietary supplements that are under regulatory review or that have been reported to cause adverse effects. If you're taking a supplement, it's a good idea to check the FDA website periodically for updates.
Keep in mind, though, that the FDA doesn't regulate or oversee vitamin and supplement content or claims to the same degree as it does prescription medications.
If you think that a dietary supplement may have caused you to have a serious reaction or illness, stop using the product and fill out a safety report through the Safety Reporting Portal website.
Oct. 25, 2017
See more In-depth
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. Accessed July 17, 2017.
- Duyff RL. Use supplements wisely. In: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2017.
- Dietary supplements: What you need to know. Office of Dietary Supplements. http://ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/DS_WhatYouNeedToKnow.aspx. Accessed Aug. 8, 2017.
- Colditz GA. Healthy diet in adults. https://uptodate.com/content/sources. Accessed Aug. 8, 2017.
- Fairfield KM. Vitamin supplementation in disease prevention. https://uptodate.com/content/sources. Accessed Aug. 8, 2017.
- AskMayoExpert. Antioxidants. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
- AskMayoExpert. Dietary and herbal supplements. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
- Ritchie C, et al. Geriatric nutrition: Nutritional issues in older adults. https://uptodate.com/content/sources. Accessed Aug. 8, 2017.
- Dietary supplements. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm153239.htm. Accessed Aug. 8, 2017.
- Dietary supplements — How to report a problem. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/ReportAdverseEvent/ucm111110.htm. Accessed Aug. 10, 2017.
- Dietary supplements. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/dietarysupplements. Accessed Oct. 4, 2017.