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What questions should I ask before taking vitamins and supplements?

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Before you add a supplement or vitamin to your routine, go over these questions with your doctor, pharmacist, or registered dietitian:

  • Can this supplement help me? Do I need it for a medical condition or to prevent disease?
  • What does the research say about its benefits?
  • How much would I take?
  • When and for how long do I need it?
  • Should I take it as a pill, powder, or liquid?
  • Which form of the vitamin (vitamin D2 or D3, for instance) is the best?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • What are the best brands of this supplement in terms of quality, safety, and how well they work?
  • Can I take it along with my other medications? Should I avoid any foods?
  • Will I need to stop taking it if I have to have surgery?

SOURCES:

U.S. Department of Agriculture, MyPyramid.gov.

Fairfield, K. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2002.

National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements: “What Dietary Supplements Are You Taking?”

Dee Sandquist, MS, RD.

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Herbal Products and Supplements: What You Should Know.”

Gail Cresci, PhD, RD, Cleveland Clinic.

FDA: “Tips for the Savvy Supplement User: Making Informed Decisions and Evaluating Information.”

National Institutes of Health: “State-of-the-Science Conference Statement on Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements and Chronic Disease Prevention,” May 15-17, 2006.

Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2005.

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on February 20, 2020

SOURCES:

U.S. Department of Agriculture, MyPyramid.gov.

Fairfield, K. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2002.

National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements: “What Dietary Supplements Are You Taking?”

Dee Sandquist, MS, RD.

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Herbal Products and Supplements: What You Should Know.”

Gail Cresci, PhD, RD, Cleveland Clinic.

FDA: “Tips for the Savvy Supplement User: Making Informed Decisions and Evaluating Information.”

National Institutes of Health: “State-of-the-Science Conference Statement on Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements and Chronic Disease Prevention,” May 15-17, 2006.

Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2005.

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on February 20, 2020

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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