Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Vitamins and minerals are nutrients your body needs in small amounts to function well and stay healthy.  Because your body can’t make most vitamins and minerals, you need to get them from the foods you eat. Eating a variety of foods from Canada’s Food Guide will help you get the nutrients you need to stay healthy.

What are vitamin and mineral supplements? (click to expand) »

Vitamin and mineral supplements provide nutrients to people who may not be able to get them from food. They come in a different forms such as pills, chewable tablets, powders, and liquids. Vitamin and mineral supplements are available as:

  • single vitamin or mineral supplements.
  • multivitamin/mineral supplements.

Multivitamin/mineral supplements contain a combination of vitamins and minerals. They may also have other ingredients like antioxidants.

Should I take a vitamin or mineral supplement? (click to expand) »

The best way to get the nutrients you need is to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, protein foods, and whole grain foods. Foods provide more than vitamins and minerals. They also provide other things like carbohydrates, fat, protein and fibre, which are not available in vitamin and mineral supplements.

Vitamin and mineral supplements are recommended for some life stages:

Life stage Recommendation
People who could become pregnant


Take a daily multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid
People who are pregnant or breastfeeding


Take a daily multivitamin with:

·         400 mcg of folic acid

·         16-20 mg of iron

Children under 2 years who are breastfed


Give them a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU (10 mcg) until they turn two years old. If they stop breastfeeding, you can stop giving the vitamin D supplement.
People between 2-50 years of age


If you do not eat foods that have vitamin D daily, take a daily supplement with 400 IU (10 mcg) of vitamin D.
People 51 years of age and older


Take a daily supplement with 400 IU (10 mcg) of vitamin D.

You may also need a supplement if you:

  • Eat a restrictive diet that does not supply enough vitamins and minerals.
  • Do not eat a variety of foods.
  • Do not eat any animal foods.
  • Do not drink milk or fortified plant-based beverages.
  • Smoke.
  • Drink alcohol in high amounts.
  • Have a medical condition where you may need more of some nutrients.

If you think you may need a supplement, talk to your doctor, a pharmacist, or a dietitian.

Are supplements safe? (click to expand) »

Taking a vitamin or mineral supplement is usually safe, but supplements can be harmful when:

  • Taking high doses of vitamins and minerals, unless directed by your doctor.
  • Taking a combination of vitamin and mineral supplements (e.g. taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement along with another single vitamin or mineral).
  • Using vitamin and mineral supplements together with medications (e.g. medications to reduce blood clotting).
  • Using a vitamin mineral supplement in place of a prescribed medication.

Talk to your doctor, a pharmacist, or a dietitian before taking a vitamin or mineral supplement. If you take a vitamin or mineral supplement, make sure to follow the instructions on the label about how much to take.

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Last updated: 2024-05-30