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2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines support dietary supplement use

The dietary guidelines – ​released by USDA and HHS Tuesday Dec 29 – acknowledge that many adults in the US take one or more dietary supplements, which often include some nutrients that are “under-consumed among older adults, including calcium and vitamins D and B12”​.

Supplements of vitamins D and B12 receive numerous mentions in the 164-page document, most notably for mothers and infants, and also for older Americans.

The guidelines call for vitamin D supplements for infants to start soon after birth. This is the first time the guidelines have included dietary recommendations for infants from birth through 24 months.

For B12: “Human milk has sufficient vitamin B12 to meet infant needs unless the mother’s vitamin B12 status is inadequate,” state the guidelines. “This can occur for different reasons, including when the mother eats a strictly vegan diet without any animal source foods. When the mother is at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, human milk may not provide sufficient vitamin B12. In these cases, the mother and/or infant fed human milk may require a vitamin B12 supplement.”

Also for pregnant or lactating women who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, the dietary guidelines recommend women to talk to their healthcare provider about supplementation to ensure they get adequate amounts of iron, choline, zinc, iodine, and EPA/DHA.

Folic acid supplements are also recommend for women prior to conception and during the first trimester to prevent neural tube defects.

“The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all women who are planning or capable of pregnancy take a daily supplement containing 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid,” ​note the guidelines.