Choosing and Using Supplements

At least half of American adults take a daily dietary supplement—vitamins, minerals, or herbs, with annual sales approaching $23 billion. Although such dietary insurance can be a benefit, many people take them without knowing enough to ensure optimum results. To assess how much you know about dietary supplements, answer the following statements true or false.

1. People who eat a balanced, varied diet that includes 2 cups of fruits and 2-1/2 cups of vegetables per day can get many of the vitamins and minerals their bodies need from food.
2. Taking a supplement can protect you against cancer more effectively than eating foods with the same nutrients.
3. It's best to buy a name-brand supplement.
4. Natural supplements are superior to synthetic supplements and worth the extra cost.
5. Check the expiration date before buying a supplement.
6. When buying supplements, choose those with the USP or NSF symbol on their labels, or choose products that have passed ConsumerLab testing.
7. Choose a vitamin-mineral combination limited to 100% of the Daily Value of each nutrient and take no more than the recommended dose.
8. Vegetarians who eliminate all animal products from their diets may need additional vitamin B12 and other nutrients.
9. It's safe to take a dietary supplement without your doctor's approval.
10. Multivitamins should contain no more than 100 percent of the RDAs for vitamin A, C, D, E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iodine, and selenium.
11. Most adults can get all the calcium they need to prevent osteoporosis from their diets alone.
12. If you're older than 65, you may need to increase your intake of vitamins B6, B12, and D because your body may not absorb vitamins B6 and B12 nutrients as well as the bodies of younger people and older peoples' bodies do not manufacture as much vitamin D.
13. Don't self-prescribe vitamins if you have a chronic or serious health problem.
14. Store supplements out of the reach of children.