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Vitamins and Supplements

More than half of Americans take dietary supplements, a $20.8 billion dollar industry in 2005.

Why do people take supplements?

  • Protect against disease
  • Improve performance (athletic, sexual)
  • Replace something they are missing
  • Medical reasons: deficiency (e.g., iron deficiency)
  • Doctor recommended: e.g., prenatal vitamins


  • Don’t help with poor food choices
  • Do not increase energy or brain power
  • Do not protect against harmful effects, e.g., alcohol or tobacco
  • Emotional stress does not increase need
  • No scientific evidence that supplements prevent or cure cancer

Who should take vitamins?

  • All women in their childbearing years or who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. It is recommended that sexually active females take a daily prenatal or multi-vitamin containing at least 400mcg of folic acid throughout their childbearing years (14-49) to prevent birth defects in the earliest stages of pregnancy.
  • Women with heavy menstrual bleeding especially need iron
  • People who are on a very low calorie diet
  • Postmenopausal women may need Calcium and Vitamin D for bone health
  • Vegetarians may need some supplements

Risks of supplements

  • Overdose of minerals or vitamins. It you take too many, you may suffer from vitamin toxicity. Keep all vitamins and supplements out of the reach of children
  • Check with your pharmacist or doctor before taking them, especially if you are on medication. Remember - everything interacts with something else
  • Manufacture and use of these substances are not regulated by Federal Drug Administration (FDA)

Before taking any drug, vitamin or supplement consult with your doctor, pharmacist or dietitian regarding safety and necessity - not the person who is selling them!

For more information visit these web sites:


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