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Get answers to your nutrition & healthy eating questions.
Call us toll-free† at 1-877-510-510-2 to speak directly with a Registered Dietitian.
Before taking any supplement it's important to talk to your healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian to discuss your individual needs.
No. The energy that your body needs to think, work and play comes from calories. Vitamins and minerals in pill form do not provide calories. Calories come from the foods we eat.
No. Vitamin and mineral supplements don't reduce stress but eating well is one strategy that may help you cope with the stresses of daily living. A supplement will only provide some missing nutrients if you are not eating well. If you are feeling stressed it's important to find out the causes of your stress and get help from a health professional if needed.
Not necessarily. You and your family can get the nutrients you need by following the recommendations in Canada's Food Guide. Vitamin and mineral supplements do not provide the benefits of food such as fibre, carbohydrate, fat, protein and calories. If you’re concerned about whether you or your children are getting enough nutrients, speak to your healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian.
Here are some situations that may require a supplement. Remember, if you are concerned about your nutrient intake or think you may need a supplement, speak to your healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian.
Sometimes. A single daily multivitamin is usually safe. However, some vitamins and minerals are dangerous when taken in large amounts if you take them as single nutrient supplements. For example, high intakes of vitamin A during pregnancy have been linked to birth defects. Also, vitamin D, niacin, calcium, iron and selenium are toxic in high doses.
For some supplements, if you take too much, you may experience unpleasant side effects. For example, having over 2000 mg of vitamin C may cause stomach problems like diarrhea. Large amounts of vitamin B6 and fluoride also have harmful side effects. Speak to your healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian if you have any nutritional concerns or questions before taking any supplements.
No. It is not recommended that vitamin A or beta-carotene supplements be used to prevent cancer. In fact, research has shown that in some cases, taking these supplements can increase the risk of some types of cancer.
Almost all nutrients help the immune system in one way or another. Some research suggests that vitamin C, zinc and selenium may make your immune system stronger. For most people, however, there is no good evidence that taking more of these nutrients than what you can get from a healthy diet will improve your immune system.
It’s best to check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements. Both zinc and selenium can be toxic in high doses, and taking more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day can have side effects like diarrhea.
No. Several nutrients have been studied to see if they can help prevent dementia. These include antioxidants (such as vitamins A, C and E), B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Currently there is not enough evidence that shows that taking vitamin and mineral supplements will prevent dementia.
No. It is not recommended that you take a vitamin E supplement to help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease or cancer. In fact, some research has shown that in certain individuals (such as those who already have had heart disease, cancer or diabetes), high doses of vitamin E supplements can actually cause harm. More research is needed to know how vitamin E supplements can affect the risk of chronic disease. Always speak with your doctor before starting a vitamin E supplement.
The amount of vitamin E found in a multivitamin is considered safe and appropriate for healthy individuals.
Do I need a vitamin or mineral supplement?, Dietitians of Canada
If you’d like information on a vitamin or mineral that is not on this list, call 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.
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