Nutritional supplements can be very good for you, in terms of aiding with minor health issues and concerns such as stress, sleep, and other systemic problems. There is a lot, however, that goes into perfecting your supplement routine and regimen. Here we’ll explore eight of the most common myths about supplements, and discuss what’s really going on as far as supplements are concerned.
1. They’re absolutely unnecessary.
While, in an ideal world, we would all get everything we need from our diets, the fact of the matter is that our diets don’t really cover everything we need as far as nutrients go. Many people don’t have access to high-quality, nutrient-rich foods. And those who do sometimes choose not to eat those foods. Hey, sometimes you just need some Taco Bell. We get it.
Because we don’t live in an ideal world, supplements actually are quite necessary. A good multi-vitamin can fill some of the holes in your diet. Targeted vitamins and minerals may be able to help even more. Everyone is different, though, and has different needs, so it’s best to talk to your doctor before adding in supplements.
2. It is always best to take your vitamins in the morning.
It sure seems like taking a handful of supplements with your morning glass of water is the best way to start off your day, but this isn’t actually true. Some vitamins absorb better and are better used at different times of the day, some even right before you go to bed. Of course, you don’t want to take an energizing vitamin right before you go to bed...that one may be best with that morning glass of water.
Some vitamins are fat-soluble rather than water-soluble, so when they break up, they need to attach to fats in order to be used properly. It’s often advised to take these vitamins with food. And sometimes a bunch of vitamins and water doesn’t sit well on an otherwise empty stomach, so if your morning routine is making your tummy unhappy, try having a banana or half a bagel with those morning supplements.
3. Multivitamins prevent illness.
There has not been a single clinical trial that has shown that vitamins stop people from getting sick. While many people believe that vitamins or supplements prevent illnesses or ward off serious or chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or cancer, this simply isn’t true. Some vitamins do bolster your immune system, and that may have a good chance of fighting off certain viruses and infections. But it isn’t the vitamins doing it directly, and a lot of other factors are involved in keeping your immune system up and running.
In fact, you actually can overdo it with some vitamins, and taking too many, such as vitamin A or calcium, can actually be dangerous to your health. Make sure you’re keeping track of how much you are getting in your food every day so as not to overload yourself!
4. If they’re natural, they must be good for you.
There’s a big misconception about things that are “natural” being synonymous with things that are “not going to harm you.” This, unfortunately, is patently false.
The reality is that some supplements on the market are pretty shady, and not all they’re cracked up to be. Some of them are from sources that aren’t clean or well-tested. Others are simply the wrong product or a placebo. The word “natural” isn’t regulated by any governing body or scientific research group, so anyone can use it and claim that that means that their product is good for you. Things that can be researched about supplements, like third-party certification, lab testing, and non-GMO derived are all signs of a high-quality product.
5. Different brands of the supplement are the same thing.
Did you just score an awesome deal on some fish oil pills? You might want to take a second look and do some research on the brand. Like everything, the cost and quality of supplements go hand in hand. That cheapo bottle of fish oil pills is actually nothing like the more expensive one, and the more expensive one is worth the money.
Quality brands invest in clinical studies, lab testing, third-party certification, non-GMO derived substances, and have checked for safety, allergens, and efficacy. With supplements, you really do get what you pay for.
6. All supplements are FDA-approved.
The FDA does not specifically approve or regulate supplements in any way. The only time they find out if there is something wrong with them is after they’ve been on the shelves, and usually by consumer complaint. This is why it is essential to do your own research on the supplements you’re taking, or want to start taking. Your doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian may have some high-quality brands in mind.
7. Supplements work on symptoms the way that drugs do.
If you just took a fistful of iron pills to try to get some energy going during the day, you might want to stick with coffee for now. The effects of supplements are considerably more subtle than drugs are, because supplements work to restore health and support the body’s systems. The iron pills may eventually give you more energy if you take them as directed, but taking a bunch of them all at once basically guarantees that you’re going to pass most of them.
Your body puts supplements to work similarly to how it puts the nutrients in food to work. Supplements aren’t drugs (which is why the FDA doesn’t regulate them), and they can’t make you feel better by themselves. They’re meant to be a supporting part — a supplementary part — of your overall plan to stay healthy.
8. A multivitamin has everything you need in it.
Thanks to their name, many people think that a multivitamin gives them all the vitamins they need. While they are handy, and it’s a good idea for most people to take one, your supplemental needs have to be tailored to you. There’s only one of you, and you wouldn’t go trying to fit into another person’s lifestyle. Same thing for supplements. That person’s supplements aren’t going to fit your nutritional needs. This is why it’s a great idea to involve your doctor in planning your supplement regimen. They know all about your health and its history. It only makes sense to involve them in determining what supplements are right for you.
We know there is a lot of misinformation out there, but there’s a lot of good stuff, too, and finding the right supplement regimen for you can make you feel like you just found the perfect outfit. Contact your doctor about the supplements that you should be adding to your everyday lifestyle and get ready to start feeling great!