Do Supplements Work?

Do Supplements Work?| HealthSoul

Many people wonder whether supplements actually do what they say they will, and it’s understandable why. The reality is that most companies don’t truly vet their claims with extensive enough backing research. As a result of the lack of scrutiny and regulation, they have earned a somewhat justified bad reputation. All you need to do is conduct a quick internet search on blood pressure supplements and you’ll find a plethora of outrageous claims.

Unfortunately, all of the charlatans in the supplement industry have clouded whether supplements exist that work. In this article, we’re discussing how answering the question of whether supplements work is complicated. The lack of evidence prevents supplement companies from being able to definitively claim that their products work. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t results-driven supplements out there. It all depends on what the company claims and their product.

Supplements Come In Many Forms

The goal of supplements is always the same: to supplement your diet and improve your overall health. Supplements contain at least one dietary ingredient, either vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, or enzymes. They can also come in the form of a multivitamin that combines these ingredients into one product. Whether they come with a single ingredient or multiple ingredients, all of these products are referred to as supplements.

The most common dietary supplements include:

  • Calcium
  • Fish oil
  • Echinacea
  • Ginseng
  • Garlic
  • Vitamin D
  • John’s wort
  • Green tea

Are Supplements Effective?

The conversation around supplements ranges from adamant support to vehement opposition and it’s important to understand the reasons why. The problem with supplements is not that they completely lack research. It’s that many of them don’t have enough research to support their claims.

The counterargument to this is that the only reason why supplements don’t have the research backing their claims is because larger companies such as pharmaceutical companies don’t want supplements to work because it’s bad for their bottom line. While there may be some truth to that statement, it’s also important to understand that since supplements are fully understood because of the lack of research, the FDA cannot rightly approve them as medications.

So, while a supplement may very well cure someone of chronic back pain, because the effects are not fully understood, it would be wrong for a regulatory agency such as the FDA to approve or deny the claim. Instead, they classify them as different from medication and let people consume them as part of their routine diet. For some, this might work, and for others it might not.

There is also substantial evidence that the ingredients in supplements support an overall healthy diet. The following list describes some of those:

  • Vitamin B12- Vitamin B12 can support nerve and blood cell health.
  • Folic acid can reduce birth defects when taken by pregnant women.
  • Vitamin D can strengthen bones.
  • Calcium can also support bone health.
  • Vitamins C and E can help prevent cell damage.
  • Fish oil can support overall heart health.
  • Vitamin A can slow vision loss.
  • Zinc can promote skin health and slow vision loss from age-related macular degeneration.
  • Melatonin can counteract jet lag.

Despite the evidence that supplements work, there is substantial evidence that suggests they won’t make you live longer, increase cognitive functions, or reduce your chances of disease, all of which many supplement companies claim. In reality, it’s illegal for companies to make these claims even though many flirt with those lines in their marketing.

Are Supplements Safe?

In most cases, healthy adults can take supplements without experiencing any health risks. However, you must still be cautious with whatever you put in your body. Supplements carry the risk of interacting with other medications and causing complications. Some supplements have also shown detrimental effects on pregnant women.

Despite their potentially harmful effects, federal regulations are less stringent for supplements than they are medications. Some ingredients may also contain ingredients not listed on the bottle.

The following list represents supplements that can have adverse effects:

  • Vitamin K can reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners.
  • Gingko can increase blood thinning.
  • John’s wort can reduce the efficacy of some drugs, including birth control and antidepressants.
  • Herbal supplements, such as comfrey and kava can damage your liver.
  • Beta-carotene and vitamin A can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers.

Should I consult a Doctor Before Taking Supplements?

One of the best things you can do before taking a supplement is to talk with a registered physician. Your healthcare provider should have an extensive knowledge of both your medical history as well as what supplements could potentially adversely interact with your medication. If your doctor clears you to take a supplement, you should ask the following questions:

  • Follow all the directions on the label and your healthcare provider’s instructions.
  • Read the label carefully, including the ingredients, drug interactions, and percent daily value.
  • Be critical of grandiose claims, such as “completely safe,””100% effective,” or “all-natural.”

Can Supplements Replace a Healthy Diet?

Nothing can replace the nutrition a healthy diet provides. Supplements are meant to supplement your healthy diet, not replace it. They should enhance the benefits you already receive from your diet and you can’t replace real-food with a pill. Vitamins and minerals are critical to ensuring the proper development and function of your body. You should combine the health benefits of a healthy diet with those of supplements to complete your diet.

Are Workout Supplements Good for Athletes?

Obviously, the answer to this question varies. There are many potential benefits to athletes taking supplements. For example, creatine, when taken in the right doses, can provide an incremental increase in performance when used within a systematic strength training regimen. However, when taking creatine you should take care to hydrate.

Your Doctor Is Not All-Knowing

While it is prudent to consult your doctor about taking supplements, they are human and don’t know everything there is to know about your body. You should also consult medical research and see what other professionals in the medical field say about whatever you’re planning on taking. For example, for more information on how supplements can affect your health, you can consult a licensed nutritionist.

Conclusion- Do Supplements Work?

The answer to whether supplements work depends on what you’re taking the other factors of your overall health. Most supplements are safe but you should consult your doctor before taking any supplements as some can have adverse effects. While some supplements can greatly benefit your overall health, you should understand all of the facts prior to making a decision on your diet.