Dietary Supplements

What is a dietary supplement?

A dietary supplement is a ‘natural health product’ usually consisting of vitamins, minerals, or other substances.

Fast Facts on Dietary Supplements:

  • Supplements can be dangerous if not used properly.
  • Most children do not require a multivitamin if they are consuming a well-balanced diet.
  • Eating a variety of healthy foods is recommended as they contain many essential nutrients like fibre, carbohydrates, fats, and protein which are all needed for optimal health.
  • Does everyone need to be taking a dietary supplement? No. For most individuals, a well-balanced diet will provide adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals.

To learn more about eating healthy, visit Canada’s Food Guide or call 811 to speak to a registered dietitian.

Who needs a dietary supplement?

  • People who could become pregnant – People who could become pregnant should take a multivitamin that has 0.4mg of folic acid daily; the multivitamin should also contain vitamin B12.
  • People who are pregnant –  People who are pregnant should take a multivitamin that has 0.4 mg of folic acid and 16 to 20 mg of iron.
  • Infants who are breastfed – Infants who are exclusively or partially breastfed should be given 400 IU of Vitamin D daily until they are two years old.
  • People over 50 years – People who are over 50 years of age should take 400 IU of Vitamin D daily.

Individuals who may need dietary supplements include:

  • Vegetarians
  • Vegans
  • People who do not consume dairy or calcium-fortified products
  • People with certain medical conditions such as osteoporosis or anemia
  • People who smoke

Postmenopausal women should choose a vitamin and mineral supplement that does not contain any or much iron, for example a supplement made for seniors.

Talk to your health-care provider or registered dietitian if you have any questions before taking any dietary supplements.  You can speak with a registered dietitian by calling 811.

Services related to this information:

811 HealthLine (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555

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Last updated: 2021-03-12