top of page

Supplement Mistakes I See as a Registered Dietitian (And What To Do Instead)

person taking supplements

Oh the supplement industry :) This blog post could be about a million pages long if I gave you ALL my thoughts but I'll keep it short and sweet for you. Before you put ANYTHING into your body there are a few things you need to think about to keep yourself safe and to make sure that the money you're spending is worth it.


You Take Lots of Supplements as "Insurance"

It’s probably not going to cause any harm to take a multivitamin once a day to try and cover your bases. However, blindly supplementing various nutrients can often be a waste of money at best, or potentially harmful at worst. If you're taking supplements that have lots of ingredients (a strategy that supplement companies use because as consumers we tend to think more is better)--you could be getting such small amounts of those ingredients that there won't even be a benefit. On the other hand if you're taking multiple supplements you could be doubling up on nutrients. It is also possible to overdo certain nutrients, and most people can get the nutrients they need through food.

The Fix: Instead of focusing on supplements, focus on consuming a wide variety of foods. Start by counting the number of different plant foods you eat per week. For example, if you have a tuna salad sandwich with lettuce and avocado, with a side of carrots and hummus, you’ve had at least five plant foods (1- wheat from the bread, 2- lettuce, 3- avocado, 4- carrots, and 5- chickpeas in the hummus). Striving to increase the number of different plant foods to 30-40 per week will help ensure you’re consuming a wide variety of nutrients.

Working with a dietitian can help you take a safer and more targeted approach to supplementing. Grab yourself a Free 15 Minute Intro Call if you want to chat and see if working together is what you need

You’re Assuming That the Supplement Label is Always Telling the Truth

Unfortunately, supplements aren’t regulated the way you might expect. A supplement company could encapsulate dirt from the back yard and sell it as a greens capsule. The FDA is responsible for regulating dietary supplements, however it doesn’t have the authority to approve supplements as being safe or approve their labeling before they hit the market.

The Fix: Purchase only supplements that have been checked by third parties, like NSF. These agencies make sure that supplements are labeled correctly, safe, and aren’t hiding any illicit substances (i.e. steroids). This is even MORE important if you are a collegiate/professional/elite athlete who gets drug tested for any banned substances.

You’re Not Informing Your Registered Dietitian or Other Healthcare Team Members of Your Supplement Protocol

When you’re working toward certain health goals, you may not think it matters much to tell your doctor if you started taking a Calcium supplement, or to tell your dietitian that your doctor wants you to start taking a probiotic. However, good health providers are trying to treat you with the whole picture in mind - and that includes supplements. You may not think a supplement is worth mentioning but they can contain ingredients that may contribute to that unexplainable GI distress (or other seemingly random symptoms) you're experiencing (looking at you sugar alcohols) and if I know that from the beginning it can save a lot of time trying to figure out what's going on.

The Fix: Keep everyone up to date! Bring a list of any medications or supplements you are taking to each doctor visit, when you begin working with a dietitian, etc. Even if you don’t think it’s relevant, more information is certainly appreciated by your healthcare provider!

Supplements can have their time and place in a healthy lifestyle - using supplements for targeted outcomes for predetermined periods of time can be an excellent addition to an already nutritious diet but it's very individualized and shouldn't be something you take just because your friend or an influencer said it "works for them". A great place to ask an expert (aka me--a Registered Dietitian) questions is in our Dig In Monthly Membership. For just $10/month you get access to ALL Masterclasses each month + a Group Q&A Session every month + a weekly newsletter with tips/recipes/exclusive discounts.

registered dietitian membership

Kayla Fitzgerald is a Registered Dietitian & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and founder of Endurance Nutrition located in Charleston, South Carolina. She works with clients from all over through 1:1 nutrition coaching, small group coaching, and online courses. Her goal is to help you fuel your body for whatever the day has in store whether it's a 100 mile race or getting through the work day.


bottom of page