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Nutrition and healthy eating:Health benefits /Interactions/Safety and side effects

 Nutrition and healthy eating

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that you get most of your nutrients from food, but some people may need supplements to get the nutrients they may be missing.

Before buying a vitamin and mineral supplement, be sure to research it. Some supplements may not be safe for certain people or for long-term use.

Nutrition and healthy eating

Supplements vs. whole foods

Supplemental foods are not meant to replace whole foods. They cannot duplicate all of the nutrients and benefits that fruits and vegetables provide.

Foods contain nutrients that are better absorbed than supplements. Whole foods offer three main benefits over dietary supplements: they are more filling, they provide lasting energy, and they are easier to digest.

  • This food has more nutrients.Foods are made up of many different nutrients your body needs.
  • Essential fiber.Dietary fiber is found in whole foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.Eating fiber can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
  • Protective substances.Many whole foods contain chemicals that are good for your health, such as antioxidants. These substances slow down a natural process that can lead to cell and tissue damage.

Who needs supplements?

If you are a healthy adult, you likely do not need supplements unless you are eating a very restricted diet or have specific health concerns.

If you are not getting enough of a certain nutrient from food, you may need to take a supplement. However, if you are eating a well-balanced diet and you still feel like you need more of a certain nutrient, then a supplement may be appropriate.

  • Are you pregnant or trying to get pregnant?
  • People aged 50 or older.
  • Not having an appetite or being unable to get nutritious foods is a sign of being sick.
  • Do not eat any food groups that are not included in your diet.
  • If you have a medical condition that affects how your body absorbs nutrients, you may have difficulty digesting food. This could include chronic diarrhea, food allergies, food intolerances, or diseases of the liver, gallbladder, intestines, and pancreas.
  • You may have had surgery on your digestive system that affects how your body absorbs nutrients.

If you're not sure whether you need a vitamin and mineral supplement, talk to your doctor. Be sure to ask about the side effects and interactions that may occur if you take other medications.

Choosing and using supplements

It's important to read the labels on supplements before taking them, so you know what ingredients are in them and what side effects they may cause.

  • Check the label.Product labels can tell you what the active ingredient or ingredients are, as well as the nutrients that are included in each serving.
  • Avoid megadoses.Taking more than the recommended daily values can increase your risk of side effects.
  • Watch what you eat.Vitamins and minerals are being added to many foods, including breakfast cereals and drinks. If you're also taking supplements, you may be getting more than you realize. Taking more than you need can be expensive and can increase the risk of side effects.
  • Tell your doctor.If you are taking supplements and also taking prescription drugs or having surgery or other procedures, be sure to talk with your doctor first. Certain combinations of supplements and medications can have harmful effects.
  • Watch for alerts and recalls.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements as strictly as it does prescription drugs. But the FDA does monitor their safety. It is a good idea to check the FDA website for warning and recall announcements from time to time.
  • Report problems.If you think that a dietary supplement may have caused you to have a serious reaction or illness, stop taking it and talk with your doctor. Your doctor may suggest that you report the incident to the FDA online.
Nutrition and healthy eating:Health benefits /Interactions/Safety and side effects

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