Should you use a dietary supplement?

The importance of making sure you are taking the proper dietary supplement, if you require one at all.

Did you know that more than half of all Americans take a daily dietary supplement? This could include vitamins, minerals, fiber, herbal products and other items. Many people take a supplement to improve overall health, increase energy or to help a specific health problem. Others take a supplement because their doctor recommended it, or because they feel supplements are good for them or their family. Sometimes people take supplements because they do not feel they are getting enough nutritionally. Should you use a dietary supplement?Considering all of these reasons for taking a daily supplement, Americans are spending billions of dollars every year. But, are they really necessary?

The first people to ask if a supplement is right for you are your doctor and/or a registered dietitian. They are experts on health conditions and will know if a supplement will benefit you. Certain situations and medical conditions may require a dietary supplement of some kind. Discuss these with your health care provider if any of them apply to you.

For those who need them, supplements are a great way to help you consume the vitamins and mineral you need to stay healthy. However, supplements cannot make up for poor eating habits, because food provides benefits that supplements cannot. By following the MyPlate recommendation from the U.S Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines, you will be able to make healthy food choices. These guidelines include making half your plate fruits and vegetables, using low-fat or fat-free dairy products, making at least half your grains whole, and choosing a variety of protein food choices. Michigan State University Extension also offers nutrition programs throughout the state.

If you do need a dietary supplement, talk with your doctor or registered dietitian first, as they may be aware of some supplements that could interfere with other prescriptions or over-the-counter medications. You want to make sure the supplement you choose will not cause an interaction. Since food provides vitamins and minerals, try to choose a supplement that contains no more than 100 percent of the U.S. RDA or 100 percent of the Daily Value for vitamins A, C, D, E, folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B12. You may be eating more of a vitamin or mineral than you think and you do not want to consume a toxic level.

Before purchasing a dietary supplement, read the label to make sure you understand what product you are purchasing. Look at the directions, ingredients, expiration date and any label claims to make sure this product is right for you. Look for the name of the manufacturer and a certification seal of approval to ensure the product you are buying has a good reputation. If you have children at your house, a childproof cap may be beneficial.

Finally, re-evaluate your need for a dietary supplement. You might find the supplement you are taking is not helping you or that a different supplement will provide you with greater benefits.

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