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Each year billions are spent on dietary supplements in the United States with little to show for it.

They promise quick and unrealistic results that are so unbelievable that ironically many believe them.

Some Quick, Interesting & Unfortunate Facts on Supplements

Billions are wasted each year on supplements.
Approximately 36.1 billion dollars were spent on supplements in the United States in 2017 (1). This is a ridiculous amount of money! And when you consider how many individuals are negatively affected by supplements each year (seen below) it becomes an even more ridiculous number.

Many people each year are affected by dietary supplements (and many of those to the point of hospitalization).
“We estimate that over twenty thousand emergency department visits annually in the US are attributed to dietary supplement adverse events.”(2)

Supplements are NOT regulated properly and because of this they at best waste consumers money and at worst pose a health threat to those taking them.
“Multiple challenges in regulatory enforcement have significant public health consequences, including inadequate evaluation of safety, insufficient requirements for efficacy, minimal surveillance for unsubstantiated labeling and marketing claims, poor quality assurance and control, and gaps in reporting of AEs in the context of a postmarket regulatory framework. Nevertheless, supplements continue to be used at a high rate because most consumers are uninformed about these issues. The US public is not well protected by existing laws, with the potential for harm from supplement use ranging from financial loss to serious adverse health consequences.” (3)

Are ALL Supplements Bad?

So with all the negative out of the way, we’re left with the question, “are all supplements bad and/or harmful?”.

The answer is no, not at all. Some supplements (though very few) have been studied thoroughly and have shown positive effects while others (such as protein powders and meal replacements) are beneficial in their convenience.

With ALL the supplements on the market, one could write a whole series of articles (though I personally would not because I feel 99% of them are a waste of money, especially for the average person just looking to improve their health and wellness).

Having said that, there are several supplements I’d advise people (interested in their health and physical performance) to look further into. Note! None of these supplements are going to have a significant effect and for that reason they are not necessary (i.e, though they can be convenient or beneficial to your diet and training they will not make a night and day difference). It needs to be remembered that they are intended to supplement a healthy diet and consistent exercise program.

Also, buying any supplement without research into it is risky (financially wasteful at best and very dangerous at worst). You want to be sure to research the efficacy of the supplement, dosages of ingredients, as well as the company who made it. Most importantly you should always consult your physician before taking any supplement.

For the purposes of this article, I’m not going to go into any detail on these supplements. However, if you are interested, I’ve put several resources regarding them below.

Whey Protein Powder:
https://examine.com/supplements/whey-protein/

Creatine:
https://examine.com/supplements/creatine/

Multivitamin:
https://examine.com/nutrition/do-you-need-a-multivitamin/

Conclusion
Supplements (for the most part) are at best a waste of your money (because of their inefficacy) and at worst dangerous for your health.

Billions are wasted each year on supplements while thousands are hospitalized (because of them). The inefficacy of the regulation of dietary supplements makes it very risky to purchase and/or take them.

All in all, in my honest opinion, supplements are generally a waste of money and/or dangerous to take (outside of the several mentioned previously, and at best, a few others). Always take caution when you are purchasing and planning on taking any dietary supplement.

It is always safest (and extremely recommended) to consult your doctor prior to taking any supplements as well as researching them after getting clearence. Below are several resources you can use to research any supplements that you are planning on purchasing and using.

1. https://examine.com
2. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com

References
1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/235801/retail-sales-of-vitamins-and-nutritional-supplements-in-the-us/

2. The New England Journal of Medicine, Emergency Department Visits for Adverse Events Related to Dietary Supplements. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196363/

3. Too Little, Too Late: Ineffective Regulation of Dietary Supplements in the United States. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/25602879/

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