The majority of adults in the United States report taking a dietary supplement on a regular basis or every day. Heavy use patterns add up, and Americans now spend more than $30 billion per year on dietary supplements. But just because the masses are spending mad amounts of money on increasingly dubious products doesn’t mean YOU have to as well! Here are some reasons why most dietary supplements are a waste of your time and money.
You Don’t Need Supplements
Have you ever had a friend who eats fast food, but balances it out by adding a diet soda? Just like diet soda doesn’t undo poor food choices, dietary supplements don’t replace wise meal and snack patterns. As their name implies, supplements are intended to supplement—not replace—healthy and wholesome food choices.
Of course, it’s easier to pop a pill than it is to put together a balanced plate of lean protein foods, fresh produce and whole grains. However, the vast majority of healthy adults can—and should—obtain all of the nutrients they need from food alone.
There certainly are circumstances when a dietary supplement is indicated, but these usually have to do with treating a diagnosed nutrient deficiency. Here are some situations where a supplement may be useful:
- Iron supplements if diagnosed with iron deficiency
- Prenatal vitamins with folic acid before and during pregnancy
- Vitamin B12 for vegans and older adults with low B12 levels
- Calcium and vitamin D for those at risk for or who have osteoporosis
- Fluoride for older infants living in areas where municipal water supply isn’t fluoridated
- Vitamin K in a single prophylactic dose for newborn infants to prevent bleeding
- Omega-3 fatty acids for people at risk for heart disease who don’t consume fish
Active Ingredients and Amounts are Often Unknown
If you are a supplement user, take a look at the supplements that you take. Ask yourself, “Why am I taking this supplement? Is there evidence-based data to support this supplement’s use? Is there an established body of peer-reviewed published literature that proves this supplement works?” And lastly, “Do I even know if what it says is in the bottle is actually in the supplement bottle?”
That last question brings us to the next point about why most supplements are a waste of time and money: Supplement manufacturers do not have to disclose the amounts of ingredients, or sometimes even the exact ingredients in their products. A well-known supplement industry practice is to hide behind the term “proprietary blend.” Citing protection of secret ingredients and formulas, manufacturers are not required to divulge how much, or even what is in the bottles they are selling.
To recognize actual health benefits, some supplement products go so far as to include prescription drugs in their supplement ingredients. Red yeast rice extract, which purports to control cholesterol, has actually been found to contain statins. Statins are prescription drugs that should not be included or sold in over-the-counter supplement products. This supplement helps lower cholesterol, but only because it includes a prescription drug that was developed to lower cholesterol.
On the other end of the spectrum, some herbal ingredients have been found to not contain any active ingredients at all.
Natural Means Nothing
In the supplement world, there is no legally defensible definition for the term “natural.” In fact, when it comes to the natural products industry, the word “natural” more often than not means nothing. The perception of a natural supplement product is that it is not artificially fabricated. This is highly ironic given that the vast majority of dietary supplements are synthetically created in a laboratory environment and likely do not contain any natural, plant-based or nonsynthetic ingredients.
Other marketing jargon and catchphrases frequently used to sell supplements include “prescription strength,” “high potency” and “medical grade.” As with the word “natural,” these terms mean nothing for you—just more profits for supplement manufacturers.
When it comes to sports supplements, most are just as unnecessary as are herbal products. While there is some data to support the use of creatine in sporting events that require bursts of speed, pounding a protein shake after your workout does not by itself build muscle. Dietary protein plays a role in muscle recovery, but it is the repetitive motion and stress on those muscles over time that builds mass—not your protein drink.
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the vast array of dietary and sports supplements available in the marketplace. But just because you haven’t heard of a particular “cutting edge” supplement—or you can’t pronounce it’s name—does not mean you need to buy it. Exceptional athletic performance and optimal health come from hard work and a body fueled by good food, not expensive and worthless lotions, potions and pills.
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500 Meter Row or 400 Meter Run
20 OH Alternating Plate Lunges 45/25#
20 Plate Russian Twist 45/25#
*Black Rubber Bumper Plates only for workout
10 Lateral Ab Wheels (5 each Side)
Max Push Ups
Aimee O. 1447
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Josh W 16:03
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Jen C 1634
Special K 1236
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