Nutritional Supplements

Nutritionals is a broad category covering everything from vitamins and minerals to tube feeding formulas. Below are the most common types of nutritionals explained.

Oral Supplements

Oral supplements are nutritionally dense products intended to provide nutritional support for people who can eat food but who cannot meet their nutritional needs through diet alone. Oral supplements provide a healthy balance of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) and essential vitamins and minerals. They are primarily for people who are at risk for malnutrition.

Oral supplements come in a variety of flavors (such as chocolate, vanilla, and fruit flavors) and types, such as shakes, soups, and puddings.

Standard Tube Feeding

Standard tube feeding formulas are for people who cannot eat normal food or, in some cases, those who cannot properly digest food. Tube feeding bypasses the mouth and delivers nutrition directly to the stomach via a tube.

Like oral supplements, tube feeding formulas provide both macronutrients and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Unlike oral supplements, they replace normal food entirely rather than supplement it. Standard tube feeding formulas are available in both powder and ready-to-use liquid form.

Infant/Baby Formula

Infant formulas should provide complete nutrition for babies and replace breast milk or supplement breastfeeding. Specialized formulas are available for infants with specific needs, such as preterm babies, babies with allergies, and gastrointestinal issues. Infant formulas also include tube feeding formulas.

Diabetic Formulas

Nutritional supplements for people with diabetes support healthy blood glucose levels and minimize post-meal blood sugar spikes. Meal replacement shakes are the most common type of diabetic formula.


Food thickeners are used to thicken foods and liquids for people with swallowing difficulties (dysphagia). They are available in powder, liquid, and gel form, and users can mix them with most liquids to increase consistency.

Pre-thickened products are also an option. There are many pre-thickened products on the market in various flavors and consistencies, from thickened water to ready-to-eat pre-thickened meals.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin and mineral supplements are probably the most well-known type of nutritional. From one-a-day multivitamins to individual nutrients, vitamin and mineral supplements can fill the nutritional gaps in virtually any diet.

There are various formulations to fill the needs of specific groups, including prenatal vitamins for pregnant women and formulas addressing the nutritional needs of seniors. And while they are not technically either vitamins or minerals, dietary supplements such as fish oil capsules may provide essential nutritional support.

Pediatric Nutrition

Pediatric nutritional supplements range from nutrient-dense milkshake-type supplements intended to promote growth to formulations for children with specific needs, such as those with renal impairment or poor gastrointestinal function. Pediatric Nutritionals are available in pre-mixed, ready-to-use forms such as shakes or ready-to-drink formulas or powders that the user must measure and mix. Tube feeding formulas are also available for children who must be tube fed.