Supplements and Vitamins – Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

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supplements and vitamins

Supplements and vitamins.

You’ve heard the terms, and you know they’re important, but you suspect there’s some important information you’re missing.

You may be trying to remedy a vitamin deficit or reduce your risk of certain illness, or you may just want to be proactive about your health by taking a pill that promises to boost it.

Americans have been taking dietary supplements for decades, from vitamin A to zinc. When they were first introduced in the 1940s, people flocked to local drug shops to buy them, believing them to be magical pills that would boost their general health and well being — and they never stopped.

But while many dietary supplements are beneficial to one’s health, we all know there is misinformation, quasi science and lots of stupidity in the marketplace as well.

Therefore, it’s vital to understand which popular supplements may be beneficial and which might be harmful.

Because how can you look at the data and make your own informed decisions?

Because if you should start taking supplements, how do you go about doing that safely?

This guide will answer all of those questions (and many more) to help you make informed decisions about taking supplements for optimal health.

The guide is organized by general information in the beginning about vitamins and supplements.

Farther down the article you’ll read more specific, technical information like Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA’s).

Here is a Table of Contents so you can see the order of topics and click to info you want to learn about first.

  1. What Are Supplements and Vitamins?
    1. What’s the difference between micronutrients and macronutrients?
  2. Why Do So Many People Take Supplements? Top Reason!
  3. 5 Basics You Should Know About Supplements
    1. Nutritious diet is most important
    2. There are many different supplements
    3. Some supplements work, but other supplements don’t
    4. Supplements aren’t always safe
    5. Speak with your health care provider before taking any supplements
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
    1. How many supplements and vitamins are there? 
    2. Are supplements and vitamins safe? 
    3. Who is responsible for making sure that vitamins and supplements are both effective and safe? 
    4. Is a healthy diet better than a supplement? 
    5. But I am vegetarian, vegan, paleo, low-carb, keto, and/or paleo. Do I need a supplement? 
    6. What about antioxidant vitamins? 
    7. What about omega-3 fatty acid supplements? 
    8. Who should not take supplements?
  5. How to Choose the Right Supplements and Vitamins for You
    1. Our best advice: Don’t buy on instinct 
    2. Think and question first. Check for quality before you buy
  6. How to Understand Supplement Labels
    1. The Daily Value (DV) 
    2. (Image) Nutrition Label 
    3. Taking too much?  Upper Limit (UL) example:
  7. Tips for Using Dietary Supplements
    1. Be patient
    2. Tips for storing vitamin and mineral supplements
  8. Conclusion

What Are Supplements and Vitamins?

Generally speaking, supplements contain vitamins, minerals and herbs known as “micronutrients”.

Please note that oftentimes people call supplements ‘vitamins’, even though technically that is incorrect. 

Vitamins and minerals are known as micro nutrients because your body only needs small amounts to function properly. Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K as well as minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc are included.

Micronutrients are different from “macronutrients” like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats which make up the bulk of our meals.

What’s the difference between micronutrients and macronutrients?

Let’s take an apple, for example.

  • Macronutrients are the fiber, sugars, and skin which make up 99% of the apple
  • Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals inside – like potassium and Vitamin C – which make up less than 1% of the apple

Consider this comparison: If macronutrients are the gas in your engine, then micronutrients are like motor oil, coolant, and battery liquid.

Why Do So Many People Take Supplements? Top Reason!

The market for supplements and vitamins is gigantic, and is worth around $35 billion dollars in America alone.

In a 2017-2018 study the CDC found “57.6% of U.S. adults used any dietary supplement in the past 30 days.” Other studies say around 68%:

Why do so many people spend so much money on supplements? The answer is complicated, but one reason stands out very clearly.

While many people get the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals through their diet, some might not. When you don’t get enough vitamins and minerals, this is called a ‘deficiency’.

Deficiencies can be due to a variety of reasons including:

  • Poor nutrition
    • Lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables
    • Modern convenience food not having enough nutrients
  • Certain medical conditions (such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease)
  • Working all day with no time to eat healthy

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies cause many problems, such as:

  • Anemia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rickets
  • Hypertension
  • Hair loss
  • Digestive issues
  • Fatigue
  • Inflammation, including inflammatory bowel disease
  • Binge eating struggles

To repeat, the #1 reason people take supplements and vitamins is to reduce nutritional deficiencies.

However, in the attempt to reduce deficiencies, please know that taking too many supplements or vitamins can lead to health problems of their own. We’ll discuss this below in more depth.

The best rule of thumb is to always best to speak with a doctor before starting any vitamin or supplement regimen.

Mini History Lesson

Vitamin C deficiency can cause a variety of acute disorders with exotic names such as scurvy, pellagra, and beriberi.

Deficiency diseases were prevalent in the United States until the 1940s, when common meals like bread and milk were fortified by the FDA. These illnesses are still widespread in many developing nations.

For example, The Cleveland Clinic reports that anemia – a condition where your blood lacks iron and you become severely fatigued – is thought to impact 2 billion people globally.

5 Basic Things You Should Know About Supplements

1. Nutritious diet is most important

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, boost energy, or prevent disease, one thing is certain: Supplements aren’t meant to be a substitute for a nutritious, balanced diet.

Supplements are intended to be supplementary in the sense that they enhance the benefits of eating a well-rounded diet.

Supplements should never be used in place of real food. When compared to a pill produced in a factory, a hearty salad may make all the difference.

Pairing a supplement with poor eating habits is like buying a Ferrari and never changing the oil.

You might see results in the short term, but it’s not sustainable (or healthy) in the long run.

The best way to get your nutrients is through whole foods that are minimally processed. This means consuming fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats.

Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods helps you reduce your risk of deficiency and achieve optimal health.

However, if you do have trouble getting certain nutrients from your diet, then supplements might be a good option for you.

For example, vegans and vegetarians might need to supplement with B12 or iron since these nutrients are found mostly in animal products.

But overall, we want to be super clear. Even though we review supplements, we always recommend you focus on a healthy diet first and foremost!

2. There are many different supplements

There are over 80,000 different supplements you can order today. This is mind-boggling!

However, many supplements contain identical ingredients and the only difference is packaging.

The most common micronutrients in supplements on the marketplace include:

  1. Vitamin A
  2. B complex vitamins
  3. Iron
  4. Magnesium
  5. Folic acid
  6. Potassium
  7. Omega-three fatty acids
  8. Vitamin C
  9. Calcium
  10. Fish oil
  11. Zinc
  12. Biotin
  13. Creatine
  14. Multivitamins
  15. Protein powder

One last thing just so you know – supplements come in three main different forms:

  • Pill
  • Powder
  • Liquid

3. Some supplements work, but other supplements don’t

There are a few core reason why supplements are popular:

  1. They sometimes work
  2. Even when they don’t work, there is very little downside
  3. They are relatively cheap

And even when supplements don’t work, sometimes the ‘placebo’ effect makes you think they work!

Basically, supplements are cheap and make you feel better, with very little risk. That’s why they are popular.

But being popular does not mean dietary supplements and vitamins work all the time! Nor should you assume supplements are totally safe!

Supplements also function differently for each person. For instance, women may need higher amounts of certain nutrients, like iron and folic acid, during pregnancy. They might therefore need more supplements to meet their increased needs.

As with PCOS and osteoporosis, women are more prone to these illnesses. Vitamin D and calcium intake must be increased in people with osteoporosis, and omega-3 fatty acids may also be required in PCOS patients.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen to determine the best probiotic for pregnant women and other patients with special needs.

Here are some common supplements that are known by science to benefit your health:

  • Vitamin B12 helps to keep nerve and blood cells healthy, make DNA, and prevent anemia.
  • Folic acid and iron can help reduce birth defects in babies when taken by pregnant women.
  • Vitamin D is important for bone health and can strengthen bones, as well as help with immune health.
  • Calcium has been shown to help maintain bone health.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may aid cardiovascular health
  • Zinc can help with skin health and reduce the development of age-related macular degeneration in your eyes.
  • Magnesium can help with blood sugar control, as well as reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality.
  • Probiotics may improve gut health by helping to keep the digestive system functioning properly.
  • Protein supplements can help with muscle building and exercise recovery.
  • Creatine supplements can help improve athletic performance.

These are just a few examples, but there are many other supplements out there that have been shown to be beneficial for health!

But in general, there are much fewer supplements that actually work than are on the market!

Conversely, here are supplements that have been shown NOT to work:

  • Vitamin E supplements will not help prevent heart disease.
  • Vitamin C supplements will not help prevent colds.
  • Garlic supplements will not help lower cholesterol.
  • Ginkgo biloba supplements will not improve memory.
  • Saw palmetto supplements will not improve hair loss.
  • St. John’s wort supplements will not treat depression better than a placebo pill.
  • Acai berry supplements will not help you lose weight or cleanse your body of toxins.
  • Flaxseed supplements will not help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  • Folic acid supplements will not reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive decline (but will help pregnant women and those with anemia)

But just think about it …

Keep in mind that most studies suggest that multivitamins will not extend your life, slow cognitive deterioration, or lower your risk of disease, such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

Also, the products you buy in stores or online may be different from those used in studies, so you have to be careful if the product is citing any studies to make sure they pertain to the same ingredients. 

Here’s the point: whenever you take supplements, take them with a grain of salt.

Again, remember, a healthy diet, sleep, exercise and stress reduction are the only things we know for certain work.

4. Supplements aren’t always safe

In most situations, supplements and vitamins are not likely to cause any health problems.

However, when you put anything in your body, it’s essential to be cautious (see our section farther below on RDA’s and Upper Limits).

Federal regulations for dietary supplements are less stringent than those that apply to pharmaceuticals.

Supplements can interact with other medicines you’re taking or pose risks if you have certain medical conditions like liver disease or are going to have surgery.

Additionally, some supplements haven’t been studied in pregnant women, nursing moms, or children, and so in these situations you may need to take extra precautions.

Some ingredients in supplements may be missing from the label, and they might pose a health risk. Again, take your supplements and vitamins with a grain of salt!

Do not depend on them to magically ‘fix’ or cure you!

The following are some of the supplements that may be harmful if large doses are taken daily for weeks on end:

  • Vitamin K, which has the ability to decrease the efficacy of blood thinners
  • B vitamins in excess can cause skin rashes
  • Iron supplements can be harmful if you have certain conditions like hemochromatosis (too much iron in the blood)
  • Iodine supplements can be dangerous for people with thyroid problems.
  • Ginkgo, which has been shown to cause blood thinning
  • St. John’s wort, which has been found to make some medicines, such as antidepressants and birth control, less effective in humans
  • Supplements made with comfrey and kava, which can harm your liver
  • Vitamin A and beta-carotene, which can raise the risk of lung cancer in smokers

5. Speak with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements

This is our #1 rule.

Speak to your doctor before beginning any supplement regimen!

Your healthcare provider is your first port of call, since the efficacy and safety of a supplement may be contingent on your specific circumstances and health.

For example, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, have a chronic health condition, are taking medications or are considering supplements for children, it’s always best to speak with your healthcare provider first.

Additionally, supplements can interact with other medicines you’re taking and may not be recommended depending on your medical history.

Your doctor will know what’s best for you!

Some supplements need to be taken with food while others should be avoided altogether if you’re on certain medications.

It’s important that you understand the potential risks and benefits of supplements before popping pills willy-nilly!

Now that we’ve covered the basics of supplementation, let’s address some frequently asked questions before we dive into the more technical details.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many different supplements and vitamins are there?

There are over 80,000 different supplements available on the market. Some are derived from natural sources like fish oil, but many are produced in a laboratory.

There are so many different vitamins and supplements available that it can be confusing to know which ones you need and in what quantities.

Again I know we sound like a broken record here – but a good rule of thumb is to get your nutrients from a healthy diet and supplements second.

Are supplements and vitamins safe? 

Vitamins and minerals that are considered to be safe at the advised dosages.

According to the CRN 2017 Survey on Dietary Supplements conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, more than 170 million Americans—or 76 percent—enjoy dietary supplements.

(This number is slightly higher than the CDC survey we cited earlier, but the overall gist is the same. Supplements are popular and aren’t going away!)

However, supplements can induce negative responses. Every year, approximately 20,000 emergency department visits are directly linked to nutritional supplements.

These trips typically occur due to feeling nauseous, which can sometimes happen if you ingest too much of a substance, if you take a supplement with caffeine which triggers a panic attack, or if your stomach just gets upset for whatever reason.

(We’ll speak more about ‘how much’ of a supplement you should take below, when we get to the more technical section.)

Who is responsible for ensuring that vitamins and supplements are both effective and safe?

Vitamin and dietary supplement products are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA is responsible for making sure that supplements are safe and properly labeled.

They also occasionally issue warnings about specific supplements if they receive reports of adverse reactions or if new scientific evidence surfaces.

For example, in November of 2017 the FDA released a statement warning consumers not to use dietary supplements containing kava due to the potential risk of liver damage.

But overall, you can definitely assume vitamins and supplements, unlike prescription drugs, are safe.

Why? Because while there is little science confirming the many reported benefits, there is also very evidence of major harm.

Is a healthy diet better than a supplement?

Yes 100%.

A varied diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, some cheeses, fish, poultry, and lean meats provides all of the essential vitamins and minerals.

Our body is better at absorbing nutrients from meals than supplements according to a wide body of evidence. Whole foods also include the quantities and ratios of nutrients that our bodies can best utilize.

A balanced diet has been found to be beneficial to human health, and these benefits aren’t seen in supplements. Vitamins and supplements cannot compensate for poor nutritional intake.

And on another level …

Integrative health, which incorporates good diet, sleep, meditation, stress reduction, exercise and spirituality is even better than just diet!

If you are looking to live longer, this holistic health approach is the key!

But I am vegetarian, vegan, paleo, low-carb, keto, and/or paleo. Do I need a supplement?

There’s a good chance the answer is no.

Vegetarians and other specialized diets generally get enough nutrients and vitamins without having to take supplements.

Vitamin B12 insufficiency is more common among vegans, but many vegan specialties, such as almond milk, are supplemented with B12 to ensure regular intake.

Paleo and low-carb diets do not need supplements as long as they focus on consuming nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, meat, seafood, eggs, and nuts.

Keto dieters are at a higher risk for deficiencies in vitamins D and E because these vitamins are mainly found in carbs.

But again, a healthy ketogenic diet will likely have plenty of nutrient-dense foods to make up for the lack of these vitamins.

If you’re unsure whether or not your diet needs supplements, ask a registered dietician or certified nutritionist. Physicians are great too! They will be able to help you figure out if you need to supplement and, if so, what kind would be best for you.

What about antioxidant vitamins?

Antioxidant vitamins (A, C, and E) are popular.

This is due to the findings of large cross-sectional studies comparing healthy individuals who consume huge amounts of these vitamins with those that do not.

These studies, however, are subject to bias and do not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

For example, vitamin antioxidant supplements have been studied in a small number of clinical trials to determine whether greater vitamin antioxidants consumption might benefit overall health. Results are inconclusive.

Vitamin E has not been found to prevent heart disease in a recent large, placebo-controlled randomized trial.

Our conclusion is that vitamin antioxidant supplements are not recommended.

What about omega-3 fatty acid supplements?

Fish consumption has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease.

According to available evidence, the American Heart Association recommends that individuals without established heart disease eat a variety of fish at least twice a week, preferably omega-3-rich fish. Salmon, herring and trout are examples of these fish.

Generally speaking, fish oil, also known as an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, is recommended for most people of all ages and groups.

Who should not take supplements?

You should know that certain groups of people should exercise strong caution before starting a supplement.

Again, please speak to your doctor first about any health risks. Especially if you fall into one of these groups of people with pre-existing health conditions:

  • Pregnant women, people on other medications, and other people at risk should avoid many supplements (exceptions being multivitamins or other supplements with iron).
  • People taking antidepressants, blood pressure medications, diuretics, blood thinners, aspirin, immunosuppressives and steroids. These are all examples of drugs that can interact badly with supplements.
  • People already taking prescription drugs for diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or liver disease. In most cases supplements are fine, even with these conditions and medications. However, there are situations when these conditions can make supplements dangerous so please consult a health practitioner before starting.
  • Older adults are also more vulnerable to the side effects of supplements.
  • Younger people under age 18, as well as adolescents, are still growing and developing. Their bodies are different from adults and they should not take mineral supplements unless recommended by a health practitioner.
  • Chronic conditions in general. In most cases, supplements are fine for people with chronic conditions or taking medications. However, these populations are more vulnerable to the side effects of supplements so, again, for the 1000th time, please consult a health practitioner before starting.

Now that we have tackled some frequently asked questions, we’re going to assume you are interested in supplements and might be interested in purchasing one or more of them.

But … how to choose the right ones for you?

How to Choose the Right Supplements and Vitamins for You

When browsing the dietary supplement aisles of a health food store or even your local supermarket, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

While many of the health claims are unsubstantiated or clearly false (see below for more info on outrageous and false claims), there may be certain supplements that are beneficial for some people.

Here’s our best advice when picking a supplement right for you: 

Our best advice: Don’t buy on instinct. Think and question first.

Billions of dollars are spent on packaging, marketing and clever copywriting.

As you start to browse online for supplements, no doubt something will catch your eye.

But! Before you purchase, take some time to think. Sleep on it.

Take the time to think about these issues with yourself first and foremost. Check in with your doctor, pharmacist, or registered dietitian before adding a supplement or vitamin to your regimen.

When you do check in with your doctor, here is a list of questions to consider:

  • What do the studies say about the advantages and effectiveness?
  • Is this supplement right for my particular health concern?
  • Could I be getting too much of a good thing? Is it possible to overdose on this supplement?
  • Are there any potential side effects or interactions with medications I’m taking? What are the interactions I should be aware of?
  • How much does it cost, and is it worth the price?
  • Does this supplement have a good reputation? Do any other reputable brands offer this supplement with better terms of quality, safety, and efficacy?
  • How much would I take? Some serving sizes are 4 pills, are you okay with that?
  • What do I need to know before I get started? When will it take effect after being applied?
  • Should I take it as a pill, a powder, or a liquid?
  • Are there any food, supplements, or medications that I need to avoid while taking this supplement or vitamin?

Here is a way to visualize asking these questions!

After you’ve thought about the above questions …

Check for quality before you buy

When buying vitamin and mineral supplements, always look for a quality product.

There are many supplements on the market that are not regulated by the FDA. This means that they may not be safe or effective.

To make sure you’re getting a quality product, look for supplements that have been certified by an independent third party such as NSF International, GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), USP (United States Pharmacopeia), Underwriters Laboratories, or Consumer Lab.

These organizations test supplements for safety and efficacy. You can also check online supplement databases like for reviews of popular supplements.

Here are other tips for quality assurance:

  • Look for proof that the product works, in scientific research from reliable sources. Look up studies about how well a substance works in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) PubMed database, which is put out by NIH Office of Dietary Supplements:
  • Be wary if a product promises to “cure” a disease, is “all-natural,” or offers a “money-back guarantee.” Any health supplement that appears too good to be true is probably false.
  • Look for brands that are NSF International, US Pharmacopeia, Underwriters Laboratories, Good Manufacturing Practices, or Consumer Lab certified. These ensure that the product actually contains the components listed on the label and that it is free of potentially dangerous substances.
  • Be wary of overseas supplements. Many aren’t regulated, and some may contain hazardous chemicals.
  • Bonus: You may also phone the manufacturer and inquire about any published research supporting their claims. It’s also important to find out how they ensure that the substances listed on the supplement’s label are actually present in each bottle.

Here’s another image to help you choose supplements based on specific health conditions:

Okay … now you have your supplement selected …

It’s time you learned about supplement labels, which is the most confusing part about supplements!

How to Understand Supplement Labels

Supplement labels are so confusing!

There are so many different numbers and letters, and you have no idea what any of it means.

Here’s a quick guide to understanding supplement labels:

  • Serving size: This is how much of the product you should take. It’s usually listed in capsules, tablets, or milliliters (mL).
  • Servings per container: This tells you how many servings are in the bottle. For example, if a bottle has 100 capsules and the serving size is two capsules, then there are 50 servings per bottle.
  • Ingredients: This is a list of all the substances in the product. The ingredients are listed in order from highest to lowest concentration. So if “glucosamine hydrochloride” is listed first, that means there’s more glucosamine hydrochloride in the product than any other ingredient.

Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration uses a few measures for the nutrients you need:

The Daily Value (DV)

This figure indicates how much of a vitamin or nutrient you should consume per day in order to obtain optimum health from a 2,000-calorie diet.

To put a 2,000 calorie diet into perspective:

According to United States Dietary Guidelines, “adult females aged 19–50 years who are moderately active need around 2,000–2,200 calories per day. Meanwhile, moderately active adult males aged 19–50 years require around 2,400–2,800 calories per day.”

Moving on, oftentimes the DV is the only statistic you’ll encounter on food and supplement labels.

However, there often are other numbers, so things can be pretty confusing!

For example, the DV and/or RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) are not always the same thing. The difference between the two is that:

  • The DV is the amount of a nutrient you’re actually getting, based on a 2,000 calorie diet
  • The RDA is the amount you need to consume to avoid deficiencies.

Although the requirements may differ, keep in mind that both the RDA and the DV are designed to help you obtain nutrients necessary to avoid illness and associated problems caused by nutritional deficiency.

The bottom line is: don’t focus on any one number. Instead, look at the whole label to see what it’s telling you about the product.

Yes, I know this is confusing.

There’s pretty much no way around some confusion. Doing the best I can! 

(Image) Nutrition Label

Taking too much?  Upper Limit (UL) example:

If taking 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) in, say, vitamin A is enough to keep us going throughout the day, then why shouldn’t 1,000% be enough to be even healthier?

One way is to look for the UL (tolerable upper intake level) of a nutrient.

The UL  is the maximum amount of daily vitamins and minerals that you can take without experiencing harmful side effects. The more you exceed the UL for certain nutrients, the more likely you are to have problems.

For example, a person who takes more than three times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A would exceed the upper limit.

High doses of vitamin A, as well as other fat-soluble vitamins such as E and K, can build up in the body and become harmful. Other supplements to avoid megadosing include iron and selenium.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the UL is generally the maximum amount allowed.

It can include getting that nutrient from both food and supplement sources, which means it’s possible you’ve already reached it. So keep in mind how much you eat when determining if you’ve reached the UL for a specific nutrient.

However! The UL isn’t marked on food labels or on vitamin bottles.

Unfortunately, there is no UL for most supplements. 

The government has only established standards for a small fraction of the vitamins and medicines available on the market. Experts are undecided about the correct treatment or maximum dosage for the majority of supplements you can buy on store shelves.

It’s not a number that even most healthy people are familiar with. However, it may be found on government websites. 

There is a comprehensive list of nutrients with RDA’s and safe UL’s at the bottom of this article!

Tips for Using Dietary Supplements

Here are some more tips (many have already been mentioned above) for taking supplements:

  • Take supplements as directed on the label and according to your doctor’s instructions.
  • Sometimes supplements contain natural ingredients and each capsule is slightly different from bottle to bottle. This can be expected but be sure to check if you notice different coloring.
  • Check to see if your supplement can be taken on empty stomach or should be taken with food
  • Read the label, which explains everything from ingredients, daily values (DV’s) to drug interactions.
  • Be sure to check for a closed seal, which means the supplements have not been tampered or opened.
  • Don’t take more than the recommended amount, as this could lead to serious health problems.
  • Do not take supplements if you have allergies to any of the ingredients.
  • If you’re pregnant or nursing, check with your healthcare provider before taking supplements.

Most importantly, remember that supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet!

Be patient

When you first start taking a supplement, you may expect fast results.

While you can see fast results with certain supplements – like caffeinated pre-workout supplements – generally speaking you must be patient.

It can take weeks or even months to see the full effects of supplements.

So don’t give up if you don’t see results right away! Just be patient and consistent.

Stick with your healthy food regimen first and foremost and hang tight.

Tips for storing vitamin and mineral supplements

Vitamins and supplements lose their effectiveness when they sit on the shelf for an extended period of time.

Check your collection on a regular basis and discard any that are past their expiration date.

Here are some other storage tips you should keep the following in mind after purchasing your supplement:

  • Keep your supplements in a dark, cool, and dry location. Avoid bathrooms and other damp locations.
  • Make sure they’re on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet and out of toddlers’ reach.
  • Some supplements, such as fish oil, can become rancid if not refrigerated. Check to see if it needs to be refrigerated.
  • If you have any questions about the supplements you’re taking, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. They can help you determine if you need to make any changes to your supplement regimen.


Now that you know the beginner guide to vitamin and mineral supplements, everything you need should be easier to understand!

Finally, always inform your doctor about any vitamin or supplement you intend to consume, especially if you have a health issue or are already on medication. Not all products are suited for everyone, and some might be harmful.

Stay healthy and safe while using these helpful tips. Thanks for reading!

What questions did we miss? Comment below and we’ll update the article and email you once we update!

Below is that info about upper limits too!

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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  1. It was helpful when you said to check the quality before getting supplements. My sister told me last night at dinner about how she is deficient in vitamin D and B12, so she wants to look into taking supplements as soon as possible. I'll pass this information along to her so she can know how to choose good supplements!

    1. Nice! Yes, really important people fearlessly pursue their happiness, especially in having health and taking care of themselves. Glad you can be there for your sister and hear her out. Hopefully, she can find a few good places to get some!

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