Monday, June 22, 2009

MYTH: I have to take supplements to be healthy.

Answer: MAYBE.

All of the nutrients you need can be obtained from eating food. The various compounds in foods work together to help your body absorb nutrients. Because of the interaction of different food components, it is best to view foods as your source of nutrients.

However, some groups of people may benefit from taking supplements for specific health needs. If any of the below apply to you, ask your physician or registered dietitian if you need to take a supplement:

  • your busy lifestyle keeps you from eating the recommended amount of foods from MyPyramid;
  • you are on a very low-calorie weight loss diet (1200 calories daily);
  • you are elderly and not eating as much as you should;
  • you are a strict vegetarian;
  • you can't drink milk or eat cheese and yogurt;
  • you are a woman of childbearing age who doesn't eat enough fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains;
  • you are pregnant or lactating.

If you decide to take a supplement, be sure to follow the recommended dosage on the label. While supplements can be beneficial, they can also be dangerous when taken in large doses.

For more information about dietary supplements, refer to Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.

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