Nutrition Articles

Get Street-Wise About Supplements

Tips to Becoming Supplement Savvy

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True, it can be frustrating and possibly frightening to not know if you’re getting enough of a certain nutrient. That’s where the SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker can help. Before you go supplement shopping, use the Nutrition Tracker to get a clear picture of your nutrient levels. You may not need to change anything!
Who Needs a Supplement?
The decision to take a supplement should not be made haphazardly. It is best to seek advice from your physician or consult with a registered dietitian. This health professional should assess your dietary habits and intake, medical status, medication history, alcohol intake, and lifestyle habits. Some people who may need to take a multivitamin-mineral supplement include:
  • People with digestive diseases, illness or surgeries that can interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals and therefore increase needs
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women (increased need for iron, folic acid, and calcium)
  • Vegetarians who avoid all animal foods and may have a deficit of vitamin D, vitamin B-12, calcium, zinc, and iron
  • People who smoke (because smoking increases the need for vitamin C)
  • People with certain major illnesses or injuries that can increase the need for healing nutrients
  • Women with heavy menstrual bleeding (may need more iron)
  • Menopausal women (might benefit from calcium)
  • Women who are trying to conceive (preconception warrants an increase in folic acid to decrease the risk of certain birth defects)
  • People taking certain medications that can increase or decrease the effectiveness of vitamins and minerals
  • People following weight loss programs that severely restrict food intake or calorie levels (less than 1000-1200 calories per day), which can result in poor nutrient intake
  • People with food allergies that require avoiding groups of foods and may result in nutritional deficiencies
  • People who abuse alcohol (increases nutrient needs)
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

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