Choosing a Vitamin and Mineral Supplement - Topic Overview
What should you look for when you pick a supplement?
Choose one that provides a variety of
vitamins and minerals (a multivitamin) rather than a supplement that provides
only a single vitamin or mineral (unless your doctor has recommended that you
take an individual vitamin or mineral).
Pick one that, along with the foods you eat, provides the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for each vitamin and mineral.
Supplements that provide a lot more than the RDA can cause
health problems. This is especially important for minerals and the fat-soluble
vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are stored more easily in the body, and they can
build up to dangerous levels.
Check the expiration date. Do not buy
supplements that have expired or that will expire before you can finish the
If the supplement has the United States
Pharmacopeia (USP) seal, the supplement has been tested and contains the amounts of vitamins and minerals that are listed
on the label.
Check the label for other ingredients. Some
supplements may contain food ingredients, such as wheat, corn, eggs, or
gelatin. If you have a food allergy or are sensitive to these foods, look for
supplements that don't have those ingredients.
What should you watch out for?
When you think
about buying a dietary supplement, be sure to check the claims that the manufacturers
make. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary
supplements in the same way that it regulates medicines. This means that
supplements can be sold without research on how well, or even if, they work.
Here are some things to consider:
A generic brand (or store brand) often works
just as well as a name brand supplement. Look for generic brands that contain
the same amount of vitamins and minerals as the name brand.
man-made (synthetic) vitamins are as good as natural vitamins.
supplement has been proved to cure diseases such as cancer,
heart disease, or digestive problems. If it sounds too
good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of supplements that promise quick
and dramatic results.