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Supplements and Healthy Diets

Woman holding supplements in one hand an an apple in the other

Should you take vitamins?

Eating many different kinds of foods is an important way to stay healthy. Food contains nutrients that our bodies need. Sometimes, people don’t eat enough foods that are high in nutrients. Supplements are an easy way to add nutrients to your diet. Daily vitamins, protein powders, or nutrition drinks are types of supplements.

Experts recommend that healthy people eat nutrient-dense foods rather than take supplements. But busy caregivers may not have the time to purchase and prepare healthy meals. Or you may be caring for someone with little or no appetite. Supplements or fortified foods can help provide nutrients that you might be missing.

Talk to your doctor if you answer “yes” to any of these questions:

  • Do you eat fewer than 2 meals a day?
  • Is your diet restricted? (For example, you don’t eat meat or dairy, or you eat fewer than 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.)
  • Do you eat most of your meals alone?
  • Have you gained or lost more than 10 pounds in the last six months without trying to?
  • Do you take 3 or more medications a day?
  • Do you have 3 or more alcoholic drinks a day?

Never start taking a supplement without talking to your doctor! There are many reasons why:

  • You may not need any.
  • Some vitamins and minerals may be harmful in large amounts.
  • Supplements are not tested or regulated.
  • Some can interact with medications.

It is very important for anyone with a condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease to get a doctor’s OK before taking a supplement. Your doctor can tell you the dosage and form or source you should take (calcium, for example, comes in many forms from different sources).

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