A few dietary supplements are clearly beneficial to health. For example:

  • Folic acid can help pregnant women reduce the risk of having a child with birth defects;
  • A mix of nutrients (vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, and lutein) can slow vision loss in people with macular degeneration;
  • Calcium and iron can help people who don’t get enough of those nutrients from food;
  • Vitamin D can help people who don't get enough sunlight living in northern latitudes during the winter or those with vitamin D deficiency;
  • Vitamin B-12 can help older people who cannot digest and absorb the B-12 in foods very well.

But these and other medically supported uses of supplements are the exceptions. When it comes to the dietary supplement marketplace, misinformation, exaggeration, deception, and even scams abound. This consumer guide can help you identify dubious claims, understand the potential health risks in taking supplements, and use resources with credible and accurate information.

Please remember, taking dietary supplements can impact your health and other medical treatments. The information on this page is for informational purposes only. Each dietary supplement can impact each person differently, and you should always consult a medical professional before taking a dietary supplement.

Dietary supplements

Be a savvy consumer and protect yourself from health fraud.

Other supplement resources

Unsure about certain supplements? Try these additional public resources.

Your healthcare provider

Your primary care physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist may be able to discuss your health needs and the benefits and risks of taking supplements. They may also be able to make sure that a dietary supplement doesn’t interact with your medications.

Reporting supplement issues to the FDA

If you or someone you know may have suffered a bad reaction or adverse event from taking a dietary supplement, tell the Food and Drug Administration via the FDA website.

Start a report