These are a few questions you should ask yourself before choosing a dietary supplement regimen. First make note of the different kinds of supplements in the health introduction part of this site. Finally make note of what nutrients you get from your diet consistantly.
An individual taking supplements or consuming fortified cereals daily should be careful adding extra supplements or single-nutrient supplements. The additive effect of severeal different supplements containing the same nutrients could result in adverse side effects. An individual taking severeal different single-nutrient supplements might find it more convenient and cost effective to switch to one multiple vitamin-mineral supplement.
Fruits and vegetables are the main sources of vitamins and some trace minerals in the diet. Eating fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables each day could indicate the diet is lacking in these essential nutrients.
Citrus fruits are the main source of vitamin C in the diet. Diets that do not include citrus selections or other vitamin C rich foods might not supply adequate amounts of vitamin C.
Dark green and orange vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables) are important sources of vitamin A (as beta carotene), the B vitamins, and certain minerals.
These foods are important sources of protein and many essential minerals. Inadequate intake of these foods could indicate deficient intake of amino acids, iron, B vitamins, fiber, or minerals such as zinc and iron.
Milk products are the best sources of calcium, and fortified milk is the only reliable sources of vitamin D. A supplemental source of calcium, and possibly vitamin D, might be necessary if milk products are not consumed regulary.
Tobacco depletes the body of several nutrients, including vitamin C and beta carotene. A person exposed to tobacco smoke needs extra amounts of these nutrients either from the diet or supplements.
Some prescription or OTC medications interfere with the body's ability to absorb or use certain nutrients and could contribute to a deficiency of these vitamins or minerals. (See the section on drug-nutrient interactions with its accompanying chart.)
A "yes" answer to this question increases the importance of obtaining optimal amounts of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, manganese, zinc and other bone-building nutrients either in the diet or through supplements.
A "yes" answer to this question increases the importance of obtaining optimal amounts of those nutrients essential in the prevention of heart disease, including the omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins, B vitamins, chromium, selenium, and zinc.
Certain nutrients are shown to prevent and even treat many health conditions. Please refer to the chart on health conditions and corresponding nutrients.
Nutrient needs increase with age. Nutrient absorption and use are affected by poor digestion and malnutrition that frequently occurs in older adults. Consuming a vitamin and mineral rich diet plus taking well balanced supplements are important in the later years of life.
Vegetarians, in particular strict vegetarians who avoid all animal products, might consume inadequate amounts of several nutrients, including iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. They should consider consuming frotified foods or taking supplements to complete their nutrient needs.
Alcohol abuse is associated with malnutrition and depleted levels of B vitamins, zinc, iron, and protein.
Daily intakes of less than 2,000 calories cannot guarantee optimal intake of all vitamins and minerals. Anyone restricting food intake or dieting should consider taking a broad-range multiple vitamin and mineral, plus extra calcium and magnesium.
This section is specific to women and their dietary needs. Supplements sometimes needed in women more so than men due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menstration.
Any women who is or could become pregnant should consume daily at least 400mcg. of folic acid to reduce the risk of the birth defect called neural tube defect.
The need for most nutrients increases during pregnancy and lactation. There are supplement formulas which include folic acid and iron specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of these women.
Oral contraceptives interfere with the absorption and use of several nutrients, including folic acid and vitamin B6. If a woman is not consuming optimal amounts of the foods listed, she should consider taking supplements. (See the sections on drug nutrient interactions and its accompanying chart for more information.)
Before menopause, a woman might have higher iron needs if blood losses are high during menstruation. After menopause, a woman's need for iron decreases, so she should consider taking a supplement that either has no iron or no more than 10mg. A woman not taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will need even more calcium than she did prior to menopause, or approximately 1,500mg. daily. A woman on HRT might need additional folic acid and vitamin B12.
Stress can increase the need for certain vitamins and minerals, such as the B vitamins, vitamin C, and magnesium. There is no need to take huge doses of these nutrients, but a multiple vitamin-mineral supplement would be useful during times of stress.