Is it good to take Dietary Supplement? What do you need to know?

Last updated on February 1st, 2023 at 02:21 pm

5 minutes read. 

Many people turn to dietary supplements to get their recommended intake of those missing nutrients.

Supplements can be used to fill in nutritional gaps in your diet and may be beneficial for certain groups of people (including pregnant women, menopausal women, vegans, vegetarians, and people with food allergies) who may need higher levels of certain nutrients or whose diets may restrict the intake of certain nutrients.

Several characteristics of nutrients from dietary supplements are salient to understand when compared to those in foods.

Truth be told, dietary supplements cannot replace food nutrients. It’s meant to augment your nutrition intake not replace it.

If you have been wondering how safe dietary supplement is for your health. Relax, you’re here to get everything you need to know. Feel free to skip to any topic that interests you most.

What’s Dietary Supplement?

Dietary supplements are substances you might use to augment nutrients in your diet, lower signs of aging, or lower your risk of health problems.

It’s meant to be used as an addition to your daily nutrition intake not to replace the nutrition you’re supposed to obtain from the food hence the name dietary supplement. (26)

Types of Dietary Supplements

There are different types of dietary supplements available out there. They come with different names which normally indicate the active ingredients in it.

For example;

  • Multivitamins (indicating that it contain many vitamins)
  • Vitamin C, A, B, and K (vitamins supplement group)
  • Magnesium, Calcium (mineral supplement group)
  • Phenylalanine, Glycine (amino acids supplement group)
  • Mushroom (Edible fungi group)
  • Probiotics,
  • Fish oil (Omega 3 and 6 group).(29, 30, 31, 32, 33)

Food Sources of Dietary Supplements

Most dietary Supplement is made from food sources such as protein-rich foods including plants and animals source, fruits and vegetables, herbs, fishes, and fungi, (25, 28)

What is Dietary Supplement made of?

Dietary supplements are mostly made up of Vitamins and Minerals.

However, in the present days, dietary supplements can also contain amino acids, enzymes, herbs, fiber, fish oil, edible fungi, and other plant and animal extract that may be important to health. (1,2, 27)

Some vitamins and minerals added in dietary supplements are also added to some packed food and drinks you take.

Dietary supplements come in the form of pills, capsules, powders, gel capsules, tablets and extracts, or liquids, gummies, drinks, and energy bars.

Popular supplements include vitamins D and B12; minerals like calcium and iron; herbs such as echinacea and garlic; and products like glucosamine, probiotics, and mushroom and fish oils. Some are packed in the form of multivitamins.

Is ok to take Dietary supplements?

Honestly eating a variety of healthy foods (a balanced diet) is the best way to get the nutrients you need.

However, in most cases, it may be difficult to eat a balanced diet consistently to get enough daily vitamins and minerals or essential oils needed by your body. As a result, there may be a need to opt for a dietary supplement. (6)

On some occasions, your healthcare professional may recommend a particular dietary supplement to replace a missing nutrient or insufficient one due to one health condition or another.

Seven Tips on how to take dietary supplements

Here are what you should know before taking any dietary supplement:

1. Consult your healthcare provider before taking dietary supplements to treat a health condition.

It’s important you properly explain to your professional health care how you feel as regards your health because he/she will recommend based on what you say or what the lab test says.

And sometimes the pharmacist will recommendations based on what he/she has in the store. Work with a healthcare provider that can tell you the truth that will improve your health.

2. Get your healthcare provider’s approval before taking dietary supplements in place of, or in combination with, prescribed medicines.

3. If you are scheduled to have any type of surgical procedure, talk with your healthcare provider about any supplements you take.

4. Keep in mind the term “natural” doesn’t always mean safe. Some all-natural botanical products, for example, comfrey and kava, can harm the liver.

A dietary supplement’s safety depends on many things, such as its chemical makeup, how it works in the body, how it is prepared, and the amount you take.

5. Before taking any dietary supplement, consult your professional health care to provide answers to the following questions:

  • What are its potential benefits for me?
  • Does it have any safety risks?
  • What is the proper dose to take?
  • How, when, and for how long should I take it?

6. Carefully read the label or brochure that comes with the supplement to understand important information like the dosage, active ingredients such as the binders, fillers, and flavoring, and potential negative interaction the supplement may have with drugs and food you take.

If you don’t understand it, consult your healthcare professional to explain it to you.

This shouldn’t be limited to only dietary supplements, you should also do the same to any over-the-counter medication you buy.

Always take your supplement according to the directions on the label.

For best absorption, some dietary supplements should be taken with food; you may need to take others on an empty stomach, 30 minutes to an hour before a meal. Fat-soluble vitamins should be taken with a meal containing some kind of fat to aid absorption. (3)

Certain vitamins and minerals can affect the absorption or efficacy of some medications (including anticoagulants, certain antacids, and antibiotics). (9)

7. Check the science: Make sure any claim about a dietary supplement is based on scientific proof.  Also, check the expiration date.

8. Be a savvy consumer.

Don’t start taking dietary supplements because of their excessive advertisement online. (4)

Take your time to find out more by talking to your healthcare professional about it and understanding the information written on the label.

How are dietary supplements made?

In the food supplement industries, dietary supplements are made by extracting a certain component needed from organic substances such as (plants and animals) including aquatic sources and fungi. 

However, some dietary supplements can be synthesized synthetically in the industry.

For example; vitamin A can be synthesized from the organic compound acetone.  Folic acid is a synthetic (manmade) form of folate-a naturally occurring B vitamin (B9).

D-phenylalanine is a synthetic form of L-phenylalanine-an essential amino acid that occurs naturally in protein-rich food. And so on.

Safety, Risk, and Side effect

Dietary supplements can be beneficial at any age, but they can also have unwanted side effects, such as unsafe prescription drug interactions. They could also not work at all.

Many supplements contain active ingredients that can have strong effects on the body. Always be alert to the possibility of a bad reaction, especially when taking a new product.

You are most likely to have side effects from dietary supplements if you take them at high doses or instead of prescribed medicines, 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 anesthesia.

Supplements can also interact with some medicines in ways that might cause problems.

For instant;

Vitamin K can reduce the ability of the blood thinner warfarin to prevent blood from clotting.

St. John’s wort (subshrub) can speed the breakdown of many medicines and reduce their effectiveness (including some antidepressants, birth control pills, heart medications, anti-HIV medications, and transplant drugs). (15)

Antioxidant supplements, such as vitamins C and E, might reduce the effectiveness of some types of cancer chemotherapy.

Manufacturers may add vitamins, minerals, and other supplement ingredients to foods you eat, especially breakfast cereals and beverages.

As a result, you may get more of these ingredients than you think, and more might not be better.

Taking more than you need costs more and might also raise your risk of side effects.

For example, too much vitamin A can cause headaches and liver damage, reduce bone strength, and cause birth defects. (12)

Most white rice and flour are fortified with a folic acid-a synthetic form of B vitamin folate.

Even breakfast cereal, beverages, and nutrition contain folic acid. You could get excess of it via diet and when you consume a dietary supplement that contains folic acid you may get more than what your body needs.

Excess folic acid may increase the risk of developing cancer.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association–suggesting that all the extra folic acid might increase your odds of developing cancer.

The more we learn about folic acid, the more it’s clear that giving it to everyone has very real risks,” says folic acid researcher David Smith, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacology at the University of Oxford in England. (13)

Excess iron causes nausea and vomiting and may damage the liver and other organs. (8, 14)

Be cautious about taking dietary supplements if you are pregnant or nursing (breastfeeding).

Also, be careful about giving supplements to a child, unless recommended by their health care provider.

 Many supplements have not been well tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children.

If you think that you have had a bad reaction to a dietary supplement, let your healthcare provider know.

He or she may report your experience to the Food and Drug Administration of your country.

You should also report your reaction to the manufacturer by using the contact information on the product label.

You can as well find out on your own how an individual can report his/her bad experience with any supplement or drugs to the Food and Drug Administration of your country or state.

How can I identify a quality dietary supplement?

The Food and Drug Agency of every country normally established Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) that companies must follow to help ensure the identity, purity, strength, and composition of their dietary supplements, especially where food and drug production are well regulated. (10)

 These GMPs can prevent adding the wrong ingredient (or too much or too little of the correct ingredient) and reduce the chance of contamination or improper packaging and labeling of a product.

 The Food and Drug Administration periodically inspects facilities that manufacture supplements.

Choose a supplement that provides no more than 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance or 100% of the Daily Value (DV%) for vitamins A, C, D, E, folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B12, and at least 11 minerals.

Remember that you also are getting vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. These nutrients are being added to many products such as cereals and beverages.

Be aware that you may be getting more of these nutrients than you realize. (15)

Several independent organizations offer quality testing and allow products that pass these tests to display a seal of quality assurance that indicates the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

However, you should note that these seals do not guarantee that a product is safe or effective. Organizations that offer quality testing in the United States include:

  • NSF International
  • U.S. Pharmacopeia  (20, 21, 22, 23),

In Nigeria they’re called NAFDAC – National Agency for Food & Drug Administration & Control:

  • NAFDAC, Yaba-Lagos State
  • NAFDAC, Agulu-Awka Anambra state.
  • NAFDAC, Kaduna-Kaduna State.

Three of which are dedicated to medicines quality testing. (16,17, 18, 19)

In China, you find CMA Testing. (24)

You may find out organization that offers quality food testing in your state or country.

Dietary supplements for older adults

Is dietary supplement good for older people?

People over age 50 may need more vitamins and minerals than younger adults do.

 Your health care professional or a dietitian can tell you whether you need to change your diet or take a vitamin or mineral supplement to get enough of these:

Calcium: Calcium works with vitamin D to keep bones strong at all ages. Bone loss can lead to fractures in both older women and men.

Calcium is found in milk and milk products (fat-free or low-fat is best), canned fish with soft bones, dark-green leafy vegetables like kale, and foods with calcium added, such as breakfast cereals.

Vitamin D: Talk with your doctor about adding vitamin D-fortified milk and milk products, vitamin D-fortified cereals, and fatty fish to your diet, or using a vitamin D supplement.

Vitamin B6: This vitamin is needed to form red blood cells. It is found in potatoes, bananas, chicken breasts, and fortified cereals.

Vitamin B12: This helps keep your red blood cells and nerves healthy.

While older adults need just as much vitamin B12 as other adults, some have trouble absorbing the vitamin naturally found in food.

If you have this problem, your doctor may recommend that you eat foods like fortified cereals with this vitamin added, or take a B12 supplement.

Strict vegetarians and vegans are at greater risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency because natural food sources of vitamin B12 are limited to animal foods.

Talk with your doctor about whether taking a B12 supplement is right for you. (5  11)


Dietary supplements are substances you might use to augment nutrients in your diet, lower signs of aging, or lower your risk of health problems.

They’re of the type which comes with different names indicating the main active ingredient in it.

For example; multivitamins, phenylalanine, glycine (amino acid supplement), probiotics, fish oil, and mushroom. Etc

Eating a variety of healthy foods (a balanced diet) is the best way to get the nutrients you need.

However, if you chose to take dietary supplements for one reason or another other be sure to stick to the dosage and carefully read the label to find out how the supplement can interact with food or other medication you take.

Understand that most packaged food and drinks you buy contain some of these dietary supplement as food additives. Older people over age 50 may need more of some vitamins and minerals than younger adults do.

 It’s important you speak with your health care professional before taking any supplement to treat any health condition.

Report any negative side effects from any supplement you’re taking to your health care or the Food and Drug Administration of your country or state or to the manufacturer via the customer care line.

I hope you got value worth your time. I appreciate the time you spend with me. Leave a comment if you like this post. Have you taken dietary supplements before?  Do you know someone who is a fan of supplements? Feel free to share your story with me in the comment below.


The content provided in living Good Blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not intended to provide medical advice or take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal doctor. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Living Good Blog takes no responsibility for possible health consequences of any person(s) reading or following the information in this educational content. Viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medication, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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