GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– Americans spent close to $50 billion dollars on vitamins and dietary supplements in 2021, according to the United States Preventive Services Task Force.

However, before hopping on the bandwagon, health experts urge you to consult a medical professional.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis Health, 7News Anchor Taylor Murray spoke with a family nurse practitioner who weighs in on the benefits and dangers of taking supplements.

Vitamins and minerals are best obtained through diet, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“You need a well-balanced diet that is healthy and full of foods from all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy, and grains.”

Stephanie Buhr, Family Nurse Practitioner, Bon Secours St. Francis

Stephanie Buhr, a family nurse practitioner, says if you feel like you are deficient, a multivitamin can be a good way to supplement.

“There are certain groups of people that would benefit the most from them. Older women, often, are at risk for osteoporosis and bone breakdown, so they can benefit from vitamin D and calcium supplements… and then for infants that are breastfed, it is recommended, typically, to supplement with vitamin D,” Buhr said.

Buhr also says women of childbearing age should take folic acid as it can help prevent neural tube defects if they were to become pregnant.

But, before you start taking a new vitamin or supplement, consult with your primary care physician.

“I always recommend to talk to your healthcare provider and to make sure that you can tolerate them well,” Buhr said.

Some supplements can increase the effects of your medication, others can decrease it.

“There are certain vitamins or supplements that could work negatively against the condition that you have or interfere with the medication that you’re taking.”

Stephanie Buhr, Family Nurse Practitioner, Bon Secours St. Francis

Your provider will examine your medical history to determine which and how much of a vitamin or supplement you can take.

Buhr says it is important to only take vitamins and supplements from brands that are verified by a federal agency like the FDA.

She says the form the vitamin or supplements comes, powder, pill, or liquid, is up to your personal preference.

To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.