Before You Ever Buy Supplements Again – Revisited

There are over  54,000 dietary supplements in the U.S. alone claiming to help you gain muscle mass, lose weight or boost your immune system. Have you been wasting money on supplements that in reality do absolutely nothing for you?

If you are currently using supplements or are planning to do so in the future then I suggest  you continue reading.

Are Supplements Safe?

Anything that is properly regulated must be safe right? Wrong! We all know that  medicine has very strict regulations and yet sometimes  these same medicines cause harm to the person using them.

Take thalidomide for instance which was used as a cure for morning sickness. It actually caused about 20,000 birth defects.

Now it is a fact  that supplement regulation is a joke compared to  medicine regulation, so judge for yourself.

Also, know that “natural” does not always equal “safe”. Take ephedra for instance. It is a Chinese herb that has been used by athletes for performance enhancement, losing weight and has various medicinal qualities. However ephedra  is also known to cause a list of complications as listed below:

  • severe skin reactions
  • irritability
  • nervousness
  • dizziness
  • trembling
  • headache
  • insomnia
  • profuse perspiration
  • dehydration
  • itchy scalp and skin
  • vomiting
  • hyperthermia
  • irregular heartbeat
  • seizures
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • death

Do  I Really Need  Supplements?

Before we talk about  the doubtful  candidates,  below is a list of people who definitely need supplements:

  • People with Vitamin D deficiency
  • cancer and HIV patients
  • anorexia patients
  • people with kidney, cardiovascular, or bone disease
  • pregnant  women
  • strict vegetarians
  • senior citizens

You might be going through the list and wondering  how  come you don’t qualify to be on the list-especially if  you are an athlete. If you are a regular Joe then it is because a balanced diet and exercise is enough to  give you all that your body needs. In fact  it is way superior a method than any supplement use. If  you are an athlete, I would suggest you read “The Truth About Supplements” on the Men’s Health website or Stephen Kesting’s  “The Truth About Supplements-Everybody is Lying to You”.

Supplements do  exactly what the name suggests, they supplement our diet and are not suited to replace a good balanced meal. If you  visit your local Burger King restaurant every other day supplements are definitely a waste of your money.

 Did You Know That:

doctor and supplements

  • Doctors need to know if you are taking supplements because some supplements like iron  and calcium effect how medicine is absorbed and metabolized either rendering the medicine ineffective or  raising  them to toxic levels.
  • Many supplements are blends or formulas so  you  are not getting what you purchased in its pure form.
  • The ingredients are listed in  descending order starting with the highest content on top.
  • Many  supplement manufacturers purposely underestimate or overestimate  how many milligrams of the main ingredient is actually present in a pill or capsule.
  • Almost all research that has been made to support  efficiency of supplements are shoddy. By the time this research is debunked the money has already rolled in and a new supplement hits the market (mostly true for weight loss and body building).

So What Now?

It is not all doom and gloom. You can always use supplements  if you research their safety and proper usage to gain maximum benefit from them. Just don’t use them and expect miracles.

According to WebMD there are 10 categories of dietary supplements that top the list. You need to understand which category the supplement you use  or plan to use falls under and follow their advice. I have  gone through the pains of summarizing it for you below:

Multivitamins

Select  based on your age and gender to use on days you fall short of a  balanced meal.  A better alternative is not to skip a balanced meal.

Powdered and Liquid Meal Replacements

Use only in  combination with a lifestyle of exercising and a calorie-controlled diet.

Sports Nutrition Supplements

If used properly they  can provide  a slight edge. For example if you exercise to lose weight, ephedra has been proven to aid in modest short-term weight loss(0.9kg/month). However its  dangers have been discussed above.

If you are an athlete  involved in explosive short busts like sprinting or weight lifting, creatine might work for you. Stop buying expensive pre-workout drinks because the only reason most of them work is because  of the  caffeine and sugar in them. As Kris Clark, PhD, RD, sports nutrition director at Penn State University put it: “You can get the same boost from a cup of coffee or an energy drink that are safe. ..”

Calcium

Don’t waste your money on this one. Dairy products –which contrary to myth aid in losing weight if controlled-are great sources of calcium. Other sources are dark leafy greens, soybeans, beans, fish, and raisins.

If you insist  on buying  calcium supplements then get citrate and lactate because they are absorbed easier by the body.

B Vitamins

There is no actual scientific proof that B vitamins decrease stress levels. If you are a senior citizen however then B-12 supplements are ok because older people absorb less of it from natural sources.

Vitamin C

There is little proof that vitamin C can ward off colds or decrease its duration and intensity. There are plenty of fruits that are rich in vitamin C. Why the hell would you buy a  vitamin C supplement.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

These  two can be used separately or together to relieve mild to severe joint pains. Probably best  used with some sort  of pain-killer.

Homeopathic  Medicines

These are organ cleansers, like liver or kidney cleansers. If you  want to detox consult your doctor and stop taking unnecessary risks.

Vitamin D

Get enough sun  exposure and eat cereals, salmon,  and  tuna.  A glass of fortified milk to  wash it all down. In countries where the sun is scarce it does no harm to reinforce your diet with a vitamin D supplement.

Fish Oil

Salmon or mackerel twice a week should give you all the omega 3 you need. Other sources are canola oil, soybeans, flax, walnuts and algae but they are not as good.

If  you can’t fit this into your diet  then only get those supplements.

So there you go. Tell  us if this post was of significance to you or share with us your experience with supplements.

18 thoughts on “Before You Ever Buy Supplements Again – Revisited

  1. While I totally understand and appreciate your post, I still have found that some supplements are my choice rather than pharmaceuticals and surgery at the moment. Biotin has helped with my hair growth. Diagnosed with “female patterned baldness”, I chose not to use the prescription shampoo. While I still lose hair, at least it is growing back. I also have started on fish oil due to my dislike for anything but salmon once a week. My hope is to prolong hip replacement. I think it is important to be educated in this area. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ofcourse we do not get enough nutrition from the daily intake of food and beverages. That is why we need to compliment that with supplements. However, we cannot go about that blindly. We need to know what works and what causes more harm than good. You mentioned fish oil for example, which is actually recommended in this article. This videos in this article also mention talking to your doctor to see which supplements you actually need to use. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. Thanks… As a nursing graduate, Ill take this into account, but will still supplement to be on the safe side, I just don’t supplement daily like I used to… Rings true to me, though.

  3. Pingback: Before You Ever Buy Supplements Again – Revisited « Dominic Licavoli Insurance Services
  4. Pingback: Before You Ever Buy Supplements Again | The Zeit

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