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Dietary Supplements

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Summary

Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, herbs, and many other products. They can come as pills, capsules, powders, drinks, and energy bars. Supplements do not have to go through the testing that drugs do.

Some supplements can play an important role in health. For example, calcium and vitamin D are important for keeping bones strong. Pregnant women can take the vitamin folic acid to prevent certain birth defects in their babies.

To take a supplement as safely as possible:

  • Tell your health care provider about any dietary supplements you use
  • Do not take a bigger dose than the label recommends
  • Check with your health care provider about the supplements you take if you are going to have any type of surgery
  • Read trustworthy information about the supplement

NIH: National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

Start Here

  • 5 Tips: What Consumers Need To Know about Dietary Supplements From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Dietary and Herbal Supplements From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD) From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements)
  • Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements)
  • FDA 101: Dietary Supplements (Food and Drug Administration)
  • MedlinePlus: Herbs and Supplements (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements) Also in Spanish
  • Questions and Answers on Dietary Supplements (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Using Dietary Supplements Wisely From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) Also in Spanish

Related Issues

  • Alerts and Advisories From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Caution Consumers: Honey-Based or Honey-Flavored Syrup Products Promoted and Sold for Sexual Enhancement May Contain Hidden Drugs that Could Harm You (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Dietary Supplements (American Cancer Society)
  • Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements) - PDF
  • Examples of Dietary Supplement Interactions (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
  • Know the Science: How Medications and Supplements Can Interact From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Natural Doesn't Necessarily Mean Safer, or Better From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Watch Out for False Promises on Some Dietary Supplements (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Weight Loss, Male Enhancement, and Other Products Sold Online or in Stores May Be Dangerous (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish

Specifics

  • 5 Things to Know about Probiotics From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • 6 Things to Know about Type 2 Diabetes and Dietary Supplements From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Botanical Dietary Supplements: Background Information From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements)
  • Colloidal Silver From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements)
  • Dietary Supplement Ingredient Database From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements)
  • Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements) Also in Spanish
  • Do You Need Dietary Supplements? Vitamins, Minerals, and More From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
  • Is Kratom Safe? From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
  • Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Pomegranate From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Probiotics: What You Need to Know From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe): In Depth From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Tianeptine Products Linked to Serious Harm, Overdoses, Death (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Trace Elements: What They Do and Where to Get Them (Texas Heart Institute) Also in Spanish
  • Vitamin, Mineral, and Multivitamin Supplements for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) - PDF

Clinical Trials

  • ClinicalTrials.gov: Dietary Supplements From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • ClinicalTrials.gov: Trace Elements From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

  • Article: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Changes in Fluid Distribution across Menstrual...
  • Article: Are the Consumption Patterns of Sports Supplements Similar among Spanish Mountain...
  • Article: The Heterogeneous Effects of Formal and Informal Environmental Regulation on Green...
  • Dietary Supplements -- see more articles

Reference Desk

Find an Expert

  • Find a Nutrition Expert (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Food and Nutrition Information Center
  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health From the National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • 10 Things To Know About Dietary Supplements for Children and Teens From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Dietary Supplements for Toddlers (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in Spanish

Teenagers

  • Sports Supplements (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish

Men

  • Supplements and Men's Health (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)

Women

  • Dietary Supplements Easy-to-Read (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish

Older Adults

  • Dietary Supplements for Older Adults From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging) Also in Spanish

Patient Handouts

  • Understanding Dietary Supplements (Food and Drug Administration) - PDF

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.

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