Manual Understanding Nutritional Vitamin Supplements

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Infants who are breast-fed and children who consume less than the recommended amount of vitamin D fortified milk or formula and those with increased risk of deficiency likely will need supplemental vitamin D.

Choosing the Right Vitamins

Adolescent girls, meanwhile, might need additional iron. On the other side of the spectrum, as people age it can be difficult to get enough vitamins B12 and D.

The Only Vitamins You Actually Need On A Daily Basis

Luckily, this is one of the cases where supplements can make a difference. Other groups who may require additional supplementation include people who are taking certain medications or have a health condition that changes how their body uses nutrients, and individuals who have been told by their doctor they have a specific nutrient deficiency. Your doctor can order tests to help determine if taking a supplement would benefit you. The results might show that you are low in a certain nutrient or you might discover that you're doing just fine. Additionally, review your current diet.

An RDN can help you evaluate the foods you eat and make recommendations to meet your personal needs. Remember, real food contains healthy things a pill can't give us. When we take a nutrient out of a food and concentrate it in a pill, it's not quite the same thing.

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Be sure to consider your individual situation and consult a doctor or an RDN before considering supplements. Need serious help making a plan? The nutrition experts in our professional membership are ready to help you create the change to improve your life. In addition, several independent organizations offer quality testing and allow products that pass these tests to display their seals of approval. These seals of approval provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

These seals of approval do not guarantee that a product is safe or effective.

Choosing the Right Vitamins

Organizations that offer this quality testing include:. Don't decide to take dietary supplements to treat a health condition that you have diagnosed yourself, without consulting a health care provider. If you don't know the answers to these questions, use the information sources listed in this brochure and talk to your health care providers. Let your health care providers including doctors, pharmacists, and dietitians know which dietary supplements you're taking so that you can discuss what's best for your overall health.

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  • Your health care provider can help you determine which supplements, if any, might be valuable 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. Share this form with your healthcare provider to discuss what's best for your overall health.


    Dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet. They are not drugs and, therefore, are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure diseases. The FDA is the federal agency that oversees both dietary supplements and medicines. In general, the FDA regulations for dietary supplements are different from those for prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Unlike drugs, which must be approved by the FDA before they can be marketed, dietary supplements do not require premarket review or approval by the FDA.

    While the supplement company is responsible for having evidence that their products are safe and the label claims are truthful and not misleading, they do not have to provide that evidence to the FDA before the product is marketed. Dietary supplement labels may carry certain types of health-related claims. Manufacturers are permitted to say, for example, that a dietary supplement addresses a nutrient deficiency, supports health, or is linked to a particular body function like immunity or heart health.

    Such a claim must be followed by the words, "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

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    This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Manufacturers must follow certain good manufacturing practices to ensure the identity, purity, strength, and composition of their products. If the FDA finds a product to be unsafe or otherwise unfit for human consumption, it may take enforcement action to remove the product from the marketplace or work with the manufacturer to voluntarily recall the product.

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    Also, once a dietary supplement is on the market, the FDA monitors information on the product's label and package insert to make sure that information about the supplement's content is accurate and that any claims made for the product are truthful and not misleading. The Federal Trade Commission, which polices product advertising, also requires all information about a dietary supplement product to be truthful and not misleading.

    The federal government can take legal action against companies and Web sites that sell dietary supplements when the companies make false or deceptive statements about their products, if they promote them as treatments or cures for diseases, or if their products are unsafe. The Food and Drug Administration issues rules and regulations and provides oversight of dietary supplement labeling, marketing, and safety.

    The Dietary Supplement Label

    The Federal Trade Commission polices health and safety claims made in advertising for dietary supplements. Department of Agriculture provides information on a variety of food and nutrition topics. Department of Health and Human Services provides an encyclopedia of health topics, personal health tools, and health news. Strengthening Knowledge and Understanding of Dietary Supplements. What You Need to Know.