Vitamins and minerals, also called micronutrients, nourish your body and help to keep you healthy. You can get most of your micronutrients by eating a variety of foods in your daily diet. Getting your micronutrients through food ensures that your body is able to absorb them properly.
If you don’t eat a variety of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, you may not be getting all the micronutrients your body needs. A multivitamin or supplement may be able to help. Other people who may benefit from taking a multivitamin or supplement include:
- Vegetarians who do not eat any animal products (vegans)
- Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
- Women who are breastfeeding
- Women who experience heavy menstrual periods
- Women who have gone through menopause
- People who have had gastric bypass surgery for weight loss
- People who have a medical condition that affects the way the body digests food, such as gastrointestinal disease, lactose intolerance or food allergies
- People who have diseases of the stomach, liver, pancreas or gall bladder
Your doctor can also help you figure out if a dietary supplement will interact with any medical conditions you have, or any prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicine you are taking. Supplements can also cause problems with cancer treatments or surgery, including bleeding and problems with anesthesia.
Tips for Taking Supplements
- Talk to your doctor before you begin taking any dietary supplement
- Do not take more than the dosage recommended on the label, unless your doctor tells you to
- Read the ingredient list to make sure you know what else is in the supplement
- Just because a supplement is advertised as “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe
- Be sure your doctor knows about all the supplements you take – they can interact with some medicines
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