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. At times, adding vitamins and minerals to your diet can give your body a boost. But supplements alone can't give 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. 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 age 50 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.

Talk with your healthcare provider

Everyone’s vitamin and mineral needs are different. Talk with your provider to choose the right supplement for you. Tell any healthcare provider you visit what supplements you take.

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 1 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 won't expire soon.

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

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

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. This includes all of the below:

  • 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: Diane Horowitz MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2021
© 2000-2023 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.