0 Comments | Jun 29, 2011

Debunking myths about five popular supplements

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There’s a lot of supplements out there these days. It seems like every time you turn around there’s another big finding, another big health claim and another new supplement you should be taking. This article looks at some popular supplements and how effective they really are.

1. Antioxidants

Although the evidence behind them isn’t conclusive, it’s generally accepted that antioxidants can’t hurt. We know that oxidative stress is a big part of the aging process, so it’s quite possible that antioxidants can help out. Where we run into problems is when we disregard other aspects of our food or supplements as long as we’re getting antioxidants. For example, we might pick up a Sobe Green Tea for the antioxidants, but ignore the fact that the second ingredient (the first is water) is high fructose corn syrup.

2. Fiber

In food fiber is great stuff. There’s research suggesting that fiber for weight loss might actually work, and that fiber might interfere with some harmful processes like rapid absorption of sugar. Fiber supplements, however, are yet to be proven to be as effective as fiber within your food. Think of fiber in food vs fiber in supplement form like a basketball with air in it vs one with air around it. It just doesn’t work the same way.

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important, but its effects have been blown out of proportion. With popular supplements like Emergen-C we’ve been lead to believe that high doses of vitamin C will stop sickness in its tracks and keep us healthy. Unfortunately that’s not the case. In fact, you may want to worry more about taking too much (if you’re supplementing it), as highlighted in the article Can You Overdose on Vitamin C?

4. Calcium

Since we were kids we were brought up thinking that calcium equals strong bones. While calcium does play a role, it’s far from the whole picture. A 2010 study found that people supplementing calcium saw no decrease in bone fractures. This is most likely because vitamin D regulates calcium absorption so additional calcium can’t be utilized without vitamin D. It is recommended to take vitamin D and magnesium if you supplement calcium.

5. Omega 3s

Much like antioxidants, Omega-3s get thrown into everything so manufacturers can claim health benefits. In general, higher omega-3 intake is most likely a good thing, but low quality sources won’t do you much good and most products lead more damage than benefit because of all the other junk that goes along with it. Stick to whole food and high-quality fish oils for your Omega-3 intake.

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