Folic acid can be taken to prevent certain birth defects. Calcium and vitamin D may help avoid or treat bone loss and osteoporosis. Fish oil is effective for lowering high triglycerides. But what about all the other supplements that you hear so much about? Should you take echinacea, flaxseed oil or ginseng? Is it best to buy generic brands or synthetic supplements? Here are a few tips about choosing and using supplements.

Dietary supplements are meant to add to your diet so you get the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for most of the 18 vitamins and minerals for which RDAs have been established. It is important to talk with your doctor before taking any dietary supplements because some can interact with medications, and may increase the risk of bleeding or response to anesthesia during surgery. Always read label instructions and take supplements in the proper dosage amount.

When buying supplements, keep in mind that generic brands or synthetic forms are usually cheaper and just as effective as name-brand or natural supplements. Be sure to check the expiration date and opt for products approved by the USP, NSF and ConsumerLab. This indicates that the supplement has passed tests to show it is free of contaminants, meets the label claim for strength of the product, and dissolves properly in the body.

Want to learn more about vitamins, minerals, herbs and amino acids? Take the free online, health quiz Choosing and Using Supplements available on the Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake website at If you have more questions, talk with your doctor or call 800-887-2525 for a free referral to a physician near you.

Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake
214 324-6100

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