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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.
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. Otherwise, it's best to get your vitamins and minerals from food and not a pill.
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.
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 person.
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"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver." - Gandhi
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