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What you should know about taking supplements

Nutrition starts with the food you eat. A rainbow fest of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and fish and grains should fill your plate full of the nutrients needed everyday. But if your diet isn’t as colorful as you’d like, consider adding supplements to your daily feast.

6 ways to improve supplement intake

  1. When shopping look for supplements that are safe and give the nutrition you need. Pay attention to unexpected side effects, especially when taking a new product.
  2. Save money and time by taking one quality multivitamin with everything you need rather than 10 different supplements to treat each condition.
  3. Purchase supplements you can take two-three times daily rather than a supplement you take once a day. Your body can absorb only so much at a time. You will get more benefit from a supplement if it’s taken at intervals.
  4. Avoid taking supplements that claim outrageous results. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. It’s best to stick with the high-quality supplements that follow scientific research and your doctor’s guidance.
  5. Be sure you follow recommended guidelines for each supplement you consume. Some products can be harmful when consumed in high amounts for a long time or in combination with other substances.
  6. Keep in mind that a supplement’s nutritional value is more important than the quantity of the product. In other words, more is not necessarily better. For example, if you have a choice, take a 1000 mg rather than a 1500 mg fish oil capsule.

It’s best to get guidance from your doctor before starting a supplement program.

What is a supplement?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it’s a product, like a vitamin or mineral, taken by mouth intended to add nutritional value to your diet. Different supplement types and brands fill the marketplace and are found in several different forms, including tablets, capsules, gelcaps, liquids or powders.

While a supplement isn’t something you’d take to replace food, taking the right supplement can help depending on your needs for extra nourishment. But first, it’s best to get guidance from your doctor before starting a supplement program. Your doctor can help you determine what supplements, if any, are right for you.

Scientific evidence supports intake

It’s a scientific fact that some dietary supplements can help benefit overall health and manage some health conditions, according to the Office of Supplements National Institutes of Health. These supplements your doctor might recommend include:

  • Calcium and vitamin D to keep bones strong and reduce bone loss.
  • Folic acid taken by women who are or plan to become pregnant to decrease the risk of certain birth defects.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil to help with heart disease.
  • Multivitamins to enhance energy levels and response to stress, improve memory and concentration and improve immune system response.

Supplements & the FDA

In the United States, supplements are regulated by the FDA. The FDA established quality standards that ensure identity, purity, strength and composition of certain substances. Supplements do not need premarket review or approval by the FDA. However, the FDA does monitor each product label and package insert to ensure accurate content and truthful claims. Legal action can be taken by the federal government against companies and websites that make false claims or deceptive statements.

For more information about dietary supplements and nutrition visit these websites:
Ÿ ods.od.nih.gov
Ÿ usda.gov

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