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Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals have many roles in all parts of the body. Our body uses vitamins and minerals to help turn energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat into fuel for our body. For most people, following Canada's Food Guide will provide you with enough of all the vitamins and minerals.1

Vitamin and mineral supplements are not necessary for everyone. There are some groups of people that do need vitamin and mineral supplements. However, most vitamins and minerals are absorbed better by our bodies from food sources. Before deciding to take any vitamin or mineral supplements, be sure to talk to your doctor, Registered Dietitian or other healthcare professional.

Some groups that may benefit from a vitamin and mineral supplement include:1

  • Exclusively breast fed infants need additional vitamin D.
  • Women who are or could become pregnant should take a daily multivitamin that has 0.4 mg folic acid. Pregnant women should take a daily prenatal vitamin that contains 16-20 mg of iron.
  • People who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet may need additional iron and vitamin B12 supplements.
  • Men and women older than 50 years are advised to take a daily vitamin D supplement of 10ug (400 IU).
  • Postmenopausal women should take a daily multivitamin that contains minimal to no iron (for example, a senior's supplement).
  • People with certain medical conditions, like anemia, osteoporosis and cystic fibrosis, may need additional vitamin and mineral supplements.

Shopping for Supplements

  • Read product labels to ensure the supplements you are purchasing are safe. Supplements that feature a Natural Product Number (NPN) or Drug Identification Number-Homeopathic Medicine (DIN-HM) have been assessed by Health Canada and are safe, effective and of high quality when used as directed.2

Getting the Most out of your Foods

  • Iron absorption is reduced by calcium. If you are taking an iron supplement avoid eating calcium-rich foods or taking a calcium supplement at the same time.3
  • Certain cooking methods can retain more vitamins and minerals. Don't overcook your vegetables and fruits. Try sautéing, steaming, or baking your vegetables and fruits.3
  • Buy local produce as much as possible or start your own vegetable and fruit garden. Local produce generally have more nutrients than produce that has been shipped a long distance.3
  • The nutritional content of vegetables and fruit can be maintained all year long by freezing or canning.3
  • Vitamin C from citrus fruits, like lemon or lime juice, helps your body absorb folate from dark green leafy vegetables and iron found in plant foods.3
  • Eat a variety of foods from Canada’s Food Guide each day to get all the vitamins and minerals you need! 
Date of creation: December 5, 2012
Last modified on: February 21, 2019


2Health Canada. (2015). Licensed Natural Health Products Database. Retrieved from
3UnlockFood.ca. (n.d.). How to get the most nutrients from the foods you eat. Accessed on February 8, 2019. Retrieved from