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HARVARD

Do you need a daily supplement?

Do you need a daily supplement?

health.harvard.edu

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Supplements don't replace a healthy diet

Supplements are never a substitute for a balanced, healthful diet.

And they can be a distraction from healthy lifestyle practices that confer much greater benefits.

Big business, little evidence

More than 90,000 products generate about $30 billion every year in the United States. 

But even though supplements are popular, there is limited evidence that they offer any significant health benefits - the health benefits are negligible or nonexistent for the average, healthy perso...

Dietary supplements

This is an umbrella term that includes everything from vitamins and minerals to botanicals and biosimilar products. 

For the most part, though, people use "supplement" to refer to an individual vitamin or mineral preparation or a multivitamin. 

Why people take supplements

  • People often think of them as something extra they can do to be sure their basic nutritional needs are covered. 
  • There's also a possible placebo effect when taking supplements: People feel healthier if they do something they believe makes them healthy.

When supplements bring benefits

Supplements prescribed by a doctor are helpful for people with certain medical issues. 

Supplements can play an important role in some high-risk groups: adults diagnosed with osteoporosis, people with Crohn's disease or celiac disease, people with vitamin B12 deficiency, etc. O...

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