Nutritional Health For All

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A Simple Guide to the Use of Oral Nutritional Supplements

You have been advised by your dietitian, doctor or nurse to take an oral nutritional supplement. This may be because you have lost weight, have a poor appetite or are not able to eat enough food to keep you healthy.

Oral nutritional supplements help you get more energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. There are many types and flavours of oral nutritional supplements available including:

  • Milkshake or yoghurt-type supplements
  • Pudding or dessert type
  • Juice-based
  • Savoury flavoured supplements that can be heated gently to make a nourishing soup (do not boil)
  • Powders and liquids can be added to foods or drinks to make them more nourishing

These products are designed to complement your diet, not replace your meals and snacks (with the exception of where you may have been told to have a special liquid diet only). You should continue to keep eating as much of your regular meals as possible.

You might find it best to take your oral nutritional supplements between mealtimes so that it does not affect your appetite for meals.

Oral nutritional supplements should be stored in a cool dry place before opening. Most taste better chilled so it is useful to keep small amounts in the fridge. Some supplements can be warmed gently, particularly in the winter months. Some can be added to foods or frozen, and served as a dessert. Ask your dietitian, doctor or nurse for more information or recipe ideas. Check the ‘best before’ dates before opening. Once opened, they must be kept in the fridge and thrown away if not used within 24 hours.

Your dietitian or doctor will decide how long you should take oral nutritional supplements for. In most cases you only need them while you are having difficulties with eating a normal diet or until you have reached a healthy weight.

If you are not able to take your oral nutritional supplements for any reason, contact your dietitian, nurse or doctor as soon as possible.

Created by members of the Nutrition Support Interest Group, October 2013

Review date: October 2015

© 2013 Irish Nutrition and Dietetics Institute, INDI. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a dietitian. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.


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