December 2009 (Volume 109, Issue 12, Pages 2073-2085)
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that the best nutrition-based strategy for promoting optimal health and reducing the risk of chronic disease is to wisely choose a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods. Additional nutrients from supplements can help some people meet their nutrition needs as specified by science-based nutrition standards such as the Dietary Reference Intakes. The use of dietary supplements in general, and nutrient supplements in particular, is prevalent and growing in the United States, with about one third of adults using a multivitamin and mineral supplement regularly. Consumers may not be well informed about the safety and efficacy of supplements and some may have difficulty interpreting product labels. The expertise of dietetics practitioners is needed to help educate consumers on the safe and appropriate selection and use of nutrient supplements to optimize health. Dietetics practitioners should position themselves as the first source of information on nutrient supplementation. To accomplish this, they must keep up to date on the efficacy and safety of nutrient supplements and the regulatory issues that affect the use of these products. This position paper aims to increase awareness of the current issues relevant to nutrient supplements and the resources available to assist dietetics practitioners in evaluating the potential benefits and adverse outcomes regarding their use.