Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional (or dietary) supplement is another name for over-the-counter vitamins and minerals. In most cases, the best way to get the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed to maintain a healthy body is to eat a balanced diet. However, people on restrictive diets, women who are pregnant, older adults, and others may benefit from a nutritional supplement.

A qualified health care provider, licensed dietician, or nutritionist can provide information about nutritional supplements. In choosing a supplement, note the serving size, the nutrients included, and the expiration date. Nutritional supplements should be USP-certified. USP (United States Pharmacopeia) certification indicates that the product is tested to meet standards for strength and purity.

Store nutritional supplements according to the package directions. Be sure to keep them stored safely, away from children and pets. Natural vitamins generally cost more, but synthetic vitamins are usually just as effective.

Unless instructed by a qualified health care provider, avoid added herbs, enzymes, or amino acids, and high-dose supplements. A multivitamin should provide about 100% of the Percent Daily Value (%DV) for all or most of the vitamins and minerals listed.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Feb 2007

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015