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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of dietary supplements

Dietary supplements (also called food supplements or nutritional supplements) are products designed to give you nutrients that might be missing from your diet.

You might also take them to manage or treat a health condition.

Supplements are available in a variety of forms including tablets, capsules, liquids, gummies and powders.

Popular supplements include:

Food is usually better than supplements

Most people can get all the nutrients they need from eating a wide variety of healthy food and spending some time in the sun to get vitamin D. Taking supplements will not make up for eating poorly. The money spent buying supplements is usually better spent on healthy food.

Some people may benefit from taking supplements

Some supplements might be useful for some people. These include:

Natural is not always better

Supplements including herbal supplements aren't necessarily safer than prescription medicines just because they come from nature. In fact, several prescription medicines are chemicals that were found in nature and purified. Although many supplements are advertised as natural, their ingredients aren't necessarily natural to the human body. Some may even have serious or unpleasant side effects.

Side effects

You're most likely to have side effects from supplements if you take them at high doses or if you take many different supplements. Some supplements can increase the risk of bleeding or, if taken before surgery can change your response to the anaesthetic. Supplements can also interact with some medicines in ways that might cause problems. For example, vitamin K can reduce the ability of the blood thinner warfarin to prevent your blood from clotting.

Tips for choosing and taking a supplement

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created April 2023.


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