Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

We need vitamins to live. We also need certain minerals. These substances are naturally found in food. They help our bodies grow and function correctly. At times, adding vitamins and minerals to your diet can give your body a boost. But supplements alone can't provide all that you need to stay healthy. That’s why it’s best to eat a balanced diet.

Who might need a supplement?

Supplements can help people who have special nutritional needs. They may help people who eat small amounts or limited types of foods. You might need a supplement if any of these are true for you:

  • You rarely eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet has vegetables and fruits. It includes dairy and grain products and fiber. It has protein foods, such as meats, eggs, and beans.

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • You are a vegetarian or vegan.

  • You are often on a diet of less than 1,600 calories.

  • You can't eat certain types of foods.

  • You are 50 years of age or older.

  • You have dental or health problems that limit your diet.

  • You are in poor health.

  • You are recovering from an illness or injury.

  • You take a medicine that can cause low levels of certain vitamins or minerals.

  • You have a chronic health condition that can cause low levels of certain vitamins or minerals.

Talk with your healthcare provider

Everyone’s vitamin and mineral needs are different. Talk with your provider to choose the right supplement and dose for you. Tell any healthcare provider you visit what supplements you take. The manufacturer suggests the serving size, but your healthcare provider might decide a different amount is more appropriate for you.

Be sure you know the risks associated with vitamins and mineral supplements. Talk with your healthcare provider or check with your pharmacist for information.

If you take supplements

The FDA doesn’t test supplements for quality. So look for supplements that have been independently tested for quality. These will have a seal of approval from one or more of these:

  • U.S. Pharmacopeia


  • NSF International

These seals don’t guarantee a product is safe or effective. But they do guarantee that it has the ingredients listed on the label. They make sure it doesn’t have contaminants.

If you take supplements, make sure to:

  • Read the labels closely. See what vitamins and minerals it contains.

  • Make sure the product doesn't expire soon.

  • Store supplements in a cool, dry place. Make sure they are not in the sun or heat.

  • Take certain supplements with food or at bedtime. This is to help prevent nausea.

  • You can maintain a complete record of any dietary supplements and medicines you take. For each product, note the name, manufacturer, the dose you take, how often you take it, and the reason for use. You can share this record with your healthcare providers

  • If you are scheduled to have any type of surgical procedure, talk with your healthcare provider about any supplements you take.

Eating a balanced diet

Vitamins and minerals are found in almost all foods. Yet each food has a unique makeup. Try to eat a balanced diet to get your vitamins and minerals from the food you eat. This includes all of the following:

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Whole grains and grain products (rice, breads, cereals, tortillas)

  • Low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese)

  • Healthy proteins (lean meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and beans)

  • Healthy fats (fish, avocado, nuts, seeds, or olive, corn, and sunflower oils)

Online Medical Reviewer: Brittany Poulson MDA RDN CD CDE
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Online Medical Reviewer: Vinita Wadhawan Researcher
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2024
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.