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* The information in this document does not replace medical advice. Advice on treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician or trained health care practitioner who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

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Q. How do I know if I need a dietary supplement?


A.
Because many products are marketed as dietary supplements, it is important to remember that supplements include vitamins and minerals, as well as herbs, botanicals and other substances. Some supplements may help ensure that you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients or help promote optimal health and performance if you do not consume a variety of foods, as recommended in the MyPyramid and Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, dietary supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure disease. In some cases, dietary supplements may have unwanted effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other dietary supplements or medicines, or if you have certain health conditions. Do not self diagnose any health condition. Work with your health care provider to determine how best to achieve optimal health and always check with your health care provider before taking a supplement, especially when combining or substituting them with other foods or medicine. You can use the checklist at the following link to talk to your health care provider about your nutritional status and whether taking a dietary supplement(s) is right for you: http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/pubs/partnersbrochure.asp#firsttool

Q. How can I get more information


A.
Scientific evidence supporting the benefits of some dietary supplements (e.g., vitamins and minerals) is well established for certain health conditions, but others need further study. This is partly due to the way dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Research studies in people to prove that a dietary supplement is safe are not required before the supplement is marketed, unlike for drugs. It is the responsibility of dietary supplement manufacturers/distributors to ensure that their products are safe and that their label claims are accurate and truthful. If the FDA finds a supplement to be unsafe once it is on the market, only then can it take action against the manufacturer and/or distributor, such as by issuing a warning or requiring the product to be removed from the marketplace. The manufacturer does not have to prove that the supplement is effective, unlike for drugs. The manufacturer can say that the product addresses a nutrient deficiency, supports health, or reduces the risk of developing a health problem, if that is true. If the manufacturer does make a claim, it must be followed by the statement "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." Dietary supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure disease. In some cases, dietary supplements may have unwanted effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other dietary supplements or medicines, or if you have certain health conditions. Whatever your choice, supplements should not replace prescribed medications or the variety of foods important to a healthful diet. Do not self diagnose any health condition. Work with your health care provider to determine how best to achieve optimal health and always check with your health care provider before taking a supplement, especially when combining or substituting them with other foods or medicine. In addition to talking with your health care provider about dietary supplements, you can search on-line for information about a particular dietary supplement.


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