The use of dietary supplements has steadily increased throughout the years with reports estimating sales in the billions of dollars.

Dietary supplements fall into three categories: vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal supplements and performance enhancing supplements.

Vitamin and mineral supplements include products such as multivitamins, B-vitamins, calcium supplements and prenatal vitamins.

Most people can meet their nutritional needs for vitamins and minerals by eating a variety of foods. However, in some cases, supplementation may be necessary.

Pregnant women, strict vegetarians, those who are lactose intolerant and the elderly may benefit from certain supplements. Nevertheless, it is important to speak with a doctor to find the correct supplementation and dosage to prevent side effects and drug interactions, as too much of some supplements can be toxic.

Herbal supplements come from plants; however, this does not always make them safe.

Herbal supplements include Echinacea, flaxseed, ginseng, ginkgo, saw palmetto, St John’s wort, black cohosh, evening primrose, milk thistle and garlic.

Tell your doctor about any and all herbal supplements you are taking as many have negative interactions between the herbal supplement and other medications.

Performance enhancing supplements are products like creatine, carbohydrate powders/gels, protein powders/bars and energy drinks, to name a few.

Limited data exists to prove these remedies are worth the often high price or their effectiveness in sports performance.

Most performance enhancing supplements are treated as a food substance and do not have to meet any of the FDA drug requirements.

The supplement industry is largely unregulated, which means oftentimes the government only becomes involved after a problem arises.

This is much different than how foods and medicinal drugs are regulated, Consequently, it is vital to do your research and learn as much as you can about a particular supplement.

A good rule of thumb is to look for the “USP” or “NF” seal on the label. USP stands for the United States Pharmacopeia and NF for The National Formulary; both are quality-based regulatory bodies.

For more information, visit the website at

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at

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