Supplements and Their True Effectiveness

You want to get the most out of your food each day, but the reality is that you can’t always get the proper amount needed for health benefits. As women we have a tendency to really focus on our health as we get older.  We adopt a healthy lifestyle, realizing that our bodies require certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to protect us now and into the future. This is when we turn to supplements. It seems to make sense and so the transition is a logical one.

Are you really getting what you think you are out of your supplements? Are you actually protecting your health or could you be putting it at risk? Many of us are shocked to find that there is still little if any regulation of supplements, and so their health claims remain largely unproven. Let’s take a closer look.

Current Studies Findings

There may be risks associated with supplements.  One of the most recent controversial findings on supplements has to do with a calcium supplement. Since women are told to make sure sufficient calcium is in their diet, it’s only natural that they turn to calcium supplements to get their daily quota.  However, there is some evidence that calcium supplements are linked to increased risk of heart attacks, specifically in women.

Another concern is the effectiveness of the form of delivery. One supplement being questioned is Omega-3 fatty acid tablets and whether they are loaded with filler that won’t do much to contribute to better health.

When you are dealing with products that are unregulated, lingering questions exist as to the benefits of taking them

Some regulation goes into the category know as dietary supplements, but this is very minor indeed. Herbal supplements don’t fall into the same category as prescription drugs or food, so the FDA does not regulate them in the same way.  Due to this fact, supplement claims don’t have to be factually based. Ultimately, this means “buyer beware” as you aren’t sure that what you get is what you read on the bottle.

Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Talk with your doctor or certified dietician first, especially if you are currently taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication.  Do your research.  Know the reputable manufacturers.  Read labels to understand what is truly within the supplement you are considering.  Make sure they’re safe.  Become an educated consumer.  And most important of all, know WHY you are taking the supplement.  Understand if the benefits outweighs the risks.

The world of supplements can be rather confusing, as well as expensive.  You should get the most of your supplements and in order to do so, become an educated consumer and really know what you are getting.  Only then can you know if supplements have a positive effect on your short and long term health.

by Mary Frederick 


As a personal trainer, I always advise my clients to learn about dietary supplements before taking them.  Where do I send them?  Where else but the NIH.