The Problems With Supplements

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Dietary supplements took a beating in 2014. Big studies questioned whether multivitamins have any value. Dr. Oz got skewered on Capitol Hill for promoting bogus weight-loss products. Dangerous stimulants were found in sports supplements. And fallout continued from a late 2013 study that discovered several herbal supplements didn’t actually contain the herbs they claimed to.

Here’s the deal: Certain supplements can be highly beneficial. They’ll never cure cancer or reverse a chronic disease—if one claims to, you know it’s bunk—but they can help fill in nutritional gaps and do things like help you manage stress or sleep more soundly. For instance, doctors often recommend vitamin D and omega-3 supplements because we often don’t get enough of those vital nutrients from our diets. Even some herbal supplements have real research-backed benefits, such as turmeric for pain and St. John’s wort for mood. So a few supplements here and there are fine, but if you’re popping handfuls of pills every day, just stop—you’re probably wasting your money on stuff you don’t really need.

RELATED: The Truth About Herbal Supplements

The bigger issue with supplements is you have to be super careful about which ones you buy. These products aren’t tightly regulated like drugs, meaning they can come to market without being tested. Reputable brands like those sold at Whole Foods or most health foods co-ops are usually a safe bet, although you always want to read labels carefully. The problems—such as drug-spiked supplements or faux herbs—usually stem from low-budget, fly-by-night companies that make outlandish health claims to hook you in and take your money. Be wary about supplements sold online and definitely about any being peddled in the gym locker room. You won’t know what’s actually in them.

source: mens journal

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