How do I know if I need supplements?

Most people do not need extra vitamins or minerals. In some cases they are necessary. See the list below:

  • GI  that remove part of the intestine
    • Gastric bypass
    • Some GI disorders in infants, children or adults
    • Crohns disease
    • Bowel obstructions
  • Conditions that limit intake of specific food groups
    • Food allergies
    • Celiac Disease
    • Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis
    • Kidney or liver disorders
  • Taking a medication that interferes with nutrients ( Here are a few common interactions:
    • Metformin—Vitamin B12
    • Antacids—Vitamin B12, and calcium
    • Seizure medications—May impact vitamin D, calcium, folic acid
  • Vegan diet—Vitamin B12 and possibly iron, vitamin D and zinc
  • Living north of the 42nd parallel or low direct sunlight exposure—Vitamin D
  • Any woman who could become pregnant—folic acid
  • Pregnant women—folic acid, iron, zinc, vitamin D (prenatal vitamin meets needs)

There are lots of brands out there. They all claim that they are “the best”. Which one should I buy?

Look for a logo on your supplement that shows that it has been tested by an outside lab. The oldest organization that tests supplements is USP (United States Pharmacopeia). All medications in the USA must be USP verified. Verification of supplements is voluntary!

If a product contains this logo on its label it is guaranteed to:

  • Contains what and how much the label says it does.
  • Does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.
  • Be made according to FDA and USP “Good Manufacturing Practicdes”
  • Breakdown and dissolve in the body so that can be absorbed and used.

Consumer Lab is another independent testing agency for supplements (as well as foods that make nutritional claims)

Consumer labs tests supplements as well as foods for ingredients and purity. Look up a particular supplement or product on the consumer labs website  to see if it has been tested.


Bottom line:

If you eat a balanced diet, you are unlikely to need a supplement. If you are unsure of your needs, meet with an RDN.