Adding anything to your regular diet to improve your health or healing is considered a dietary supplement. Dietary supplements may include:
- Homeopathic products other than homeopathic medicines listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the U.S.
- Certain food products
Dietary supplements can be purchased at grocery stores, health food stores, and pharmacies. Dietary supplements come in many forms:
- Meal replacement bars
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reports widespread use of vitamin supplements.
Besides multivitamins, many dietary supplements target special needs and age groups. But all of a person’s nutritional needs can be met by eating a balanced diet. Some people who may need special dietary supplements include:
- Pregnant or nursing women
- Young children
- Vegetarians and vegans
- People who abuse alcohol
- People who are ill or frail
- Postmenopausal women
Taking heavy doses of dietary supplements has not proven to be effective. In fact, it can be toxic. The National Institutes of Health does not recommend supplementing the diet with vitamins or nutrients beyond the recommended daily allowances (RDAs). Always check with your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplements. Some supplements may interfere with prescription medicines you may be taking.