Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Fiber offers you a range of health perks. It can lower cholesterol, keep your blood sugar steady, and help you lose weight. Still, most Americans don’t come anywhere close to getting enough of this essential nutrient.

If you want to get more, supplements might seem like a good, easy idea. But before you head to the drugstore checkout line, there are some things you should know.

Food vs. Supplements

For most people, especially those who want to take advantage of fiber’s heart-protective properties, it’s best to get fiber from foods. You can find it in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts.

“You don’t need [supplements] at all,” says cardiologist Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, director of women's heart health at the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital.

And taking supplements won’t make up for poor eating habits.

“You can’t take an unhealthy diet and put in supplements and it all the sudden becomes a healthy diet,” says Joan Salge Blake, RD, a clinical associate professor at Boston University's Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

It’s unclear whether the fiber found in supplements or fortified foods gives the same health benefits as naturally occurring sources. Because of this, most fiber supplements are aimed at preventing constipation rather than, say, lowering cholesterol.

Types of Fiber Supplements

If you want to use them, experts recommend you talk with your doctor first to figure out which type is right for you.

They come in many forms, from capsules to powders to chewable tablets. They contain what’s called “functional fiber,” which may be extracted from natural sources or made in a lab.

Extracted natural fibers include lignin (a compound found in plant cells), cellulose (a sugar found in plant cells), pectin (a sugar found in fruits and berries), gum (a sugar found in seeds), and psyllium ( from the husk of Plantago plants, its the only supplemental fiber shown to help lower LDL "bad" cholesterol).

Common manufactured fibers include polydextrose and polyols, and maltodextrins.

Use Supplements Safely

Go slow. If you add a lot of fiber to your diet too quickly, it can cause some uncomfortable side effects, like bloating, cramping, and gas. Experts recommend you gradually build up how much you take. It also helps to take supplements with a large glass of water and stay hydrated throughout the day.

Healthy Recipe Finder

Browse our collection of healthy, delicious recipes, from WebMD and Eating Well magazine.

Top searches: Chicken, Chocolate, Salad, Desserts, Soup

Heart Rate Calculator

Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...