Are you considering taking dietary supplements? It's important to remember that supplements include not only vitamins and minerals, but also herbs, botanicals, probiotics, fish oil, and other substances. While some supplements can help ensure that you get the right amounts of essential nutrients or promote optimal health and performance, they are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure diseases. In some cases, dietary supplements can have unwanted effects, so it's important to be informed before taking them. To help you make an informed decision about taking dietary supplements, here are five questions to ask.
1.How Do I Know If I Need a Dietary Supplement?The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate recommend eating a variety of foods to get the right amounts of essential nutrients.
However, if you don't eat a variety of foods, dietary supplements can help ensure that you get the right amounts of essential nutrients. Before taking any dietary supplement, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best way to achieve optimal health.
2.Where Can I Find Out How Much of Each Vitamin and Mineral I Need?The US free online tool provides a list of all the vitamins and minerals and how much you need. Just enter a few facts about yourself, including your age, height, and weight. You can also get a list of your daily calorie, protein, and other nutritional needs.
Keep in mind that the amounts of vitamins and minerals you need include everything you get from food and beverages; you may or may not need a dietary supplement to reach these amounts.
3.How Can I Learn More About a Particular Dietary Supplement?Scientific evidence supporting the benefits of some dietary supplements is available. However, unlike medications, the manufacturer does not have to prove that the supplement is effective. The manufacturer may say that the product addresses a nutrient deficiency, supports health, or reduces the risk of developing a health problem if true. All products labeled as dietary supplements carry a complementary information label similar to the nutrition facts label found on food products.
4.Where Can I Find Information on the Use of Dietary Supplements for a Particular Condition or Disease?The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and ChooseMyPlate provide good sources of information on how to eat well.
Talk to your healthcare provider to help you determine what supplements, if any, might be valuable to you.
5.What Does the Information Label on a Dietary Supplement's Supplement Tell Me?The supplement information label lists the active ingredients and their quantities as well as other added ingredients such as fillers, binders and flavorings. It also provides a suggested serving size but you and your healthcare provider may decide that a different amount is more appropriate for you. On the supplement information label, the amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients such as dietary fiber are listed as a percentage of the daily value or %DV.Each nutrient has a DV that applies to all people aged 4 and over. For example, the DV of vitamin C is 90 milligrams (mg) and the DV of vitamin B biotin is 30 micrograms (mcg).
The %DV allows you to see how much a product contributes to your approximate daily needs for that nutrient. For example, if a supplement provides 50% of the recommended daily dose of calcium, it provides approximately half of the daily calcium requirement.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a website that describes the nutrition facts label and the DV in more detail.
What Is the Difference Between Recommended Daily Dose and Daily Value for Vitamins or Minerals?Many terms are used to refer to the amount of a particular nutrient (such as calcium or vitamin D) you should eat or the amount of a food or dietary supplement. The two most common are Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) and Daily Value (DV).The recommended daily doses of a nutrient are the recommended daily intakes for healthy people. They tell you how much of that nutrient you should consume on average each day.
RDAs are developed by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine; they vary depending on age, gender, and whether a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding; therefore there are many different recommended daily doses for each nutrient.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DVs on labels of foods and dietary supplements. For each nutrient there is one DV for everyone over 4 years old; therefore DVs are not recommended intakes but rather suggest how much nutrient one portion of food or supplement provides in context with total daily diet. DVs tend to equal or exceed recommended doses for most people but not in all cases.The Dietary Supplement Label Database has a web page that lists DVs for all nutrients.
What Are Upper Limits (ULs) for Vitamins and Minerals?Upper limits (ULs) refer to maximum levels at which no adverse effects are expected from long-term consumption. ULs vary depending on age group; they are higher for adults than children because adults have higher body weights than children.
ULs also vary depending on gender; they are higher for men than women because men have higher body weights than women. Our bodies need vitamins and minerals for many things such as breaking down food we eat producing bones and DNA helping muscles contract etc., but too much can be harmful so it's important to know ULs before taking any dietary supplement.