Though supplements are increasingly popular, many consumers are misled about their benefits. Here are three things to remember about taking supplements:

Most supplements will not help you live longer or prevent chronic disease.

“Supplements alone are not enough to extend your lifespan,” says Avni Jain, MD, a family medicine physician with Adventist HealthCare Adventist Medical Group. She says supplements simply help people get nutrients they may not be getting enough of in their diets or environments. “Doctors generally recommend supplements to pregnant women, older adults, those with restrictive diets and other groups with a clear need for additional vitamins.”

Eating whole foods is usually more beneficial than taking a vitamin.

Nutritious, whole foods are often healthier and contain more protective substances than supplements.

Read the nutrition label.

Since supplements are not federally regulated, claims on the front of the bottle may be misleading. “Read the label on the back of the bottle for a more accurate idea of what your supplement contains,” says Dr. Jain.

Check with your doctor before taking any supplements. Some supplements may negatively react with other medications you are taking.

5 Quick Tips

  • Always talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
  • Carefully read the labels to know exactly what is in the supplement you are taking.
  • Learn more about the vitamins in your food.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Avoid supplements or brands that have been reported by the FDA.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.