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Misconceptions People Have About Health and Fitness Supplements

Updated on April 14, 2015

Dietary Supplements are Confusing!

The Research

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), most Americans take at least one nutritional supplement every day. They supplement their diets with vitamins, minerals, protein powders and herbal supplements. Americans spend more than 11 billion dollars a year on these products, and stores devote entire aisles to them.

Many supplements promise weight loss, more energy, better health and fitness shortcuts. While some products actually live up to their promises, others have little effect on health and fitness. On the quest for a longer, healthier life, it is easy to accept the neatly packaged claims without doing adequate research.

What myths have you heard?

From bodybuilders to baby boomers, Americans are focused on better health and fitness. Most people are willing to do whatever it takes to lose weight, get in shape and stay healthy. However, some second-guess their nutritional needs, and others cling to myths about what supplements can do for them. Here are five common misconceptions about health and fitness supplements.

Breaking down the myths about supplements

Myth 1: Nutritional Supplements Are Magic Bullets

In a culture of instant results, when “a pill for every ill” appeals to many Americans, people want a quick fix for their deficiencies. Many are looking for a magic bullet. As a result, they often fall victim to the manufacturing claims and packaging promises of health and fitness supplements.


Unfortunately, dietary supplements are not magic bullets. There are no shortcuts to health and fitness. Even products that are packaged with “all natural” ingredients cannot work miracles.

In fact, some natural products are toxic even when consumed in small amounts. Herbal supplements may interact with drugs and should only be taken with doctor approval. Wise, health-conscious dieters and athletes do their homework before supplementing their meals.

Myth 2: Supplements Are Not Safe

The fact that supplements are not “miracle pills” does not mean they are dangerous. Herbal supplements contain plant parts such as roots, stems, flowers and juices that may be toxic or cause allergic reactions. However, many supplements are helpful dietary aids that traditional medicine has used for centuries.

Too much of any good thing, from herbal supplements to vitamins and minerals, has the potential to cause harm. However, studies have shown that proper supplementation can fill nutritional gaps in an otherwise healthy diet. When in doubt, Americans should not hesitate to talk to a doctor about the health and fitness benefits of supplementation.

Myth 3: They Prevent Disease

Some companies market nutritional supplements for disease prevention or management. However, supplements are not medications. Although they can bridge nutritional gaps, they cannot prevent, manage, treat or cure diabetes, heart disease or other conditions.

This is not to say that supplements have no role whatsoever in disease prevention. When nutrients like vitamin D cannot be found in natural food sources, a supplement can meet that nutritional need better than whole foods alone. When considering the “big picture,” a supplement can be a crucial piece of the puzzle.

Myth 4: They Disregard Nutrition

Some people think supplements disregard nutrition, but dieters, athletes and others know better. Health and fitness supplements cannot replace a healthy diet, but they can address some of the nutritional deficiencies.

Fresh, whole foods are the best way for people to get essential vitamins and minerals into their systems. The body is adept at using naturally-acquired nutrients. It absorbs just what it needs and eliminates the rest.

Unnecessary supplementation is a waste of money and, in some cases, it can even cause harm. On the other hand, proper supplementation can improve nutrient delivery and absorption. Taking a supplement with food is the best way to accomplish this, since nutrients in the supplement bind to those in the food.

Myth 5: Supplements Are Expensive

Many people think supplements are expensive, and some products do cost more than others. However, price does not always determine value or effectiveness. Many value-priced health and fitness products are just as strong, safe and effective as their high-priced counterparts.

Many things besides cost affect the value of a nutritional supplement. The key ingredients, potency, dose and delivery all play a role. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance is also important. While the FDA does not regulate supplements in the same way it regulates drugs, it provides guidelines and standards that affect the quality of supplements.

Food is still king over Supplements

While there have been no studies to show any serious side effects of nutrition supplements; it is still best for everyone to put food above all else!

Food is our natural driving force and is the single most important thing in our health profile. We do not encourage substituting food with ANY supplement.

A supplement is called a supplement for that reason; because it "supplements" a regular food diet.

Please keep that in mind if nothing else.

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Wrapping Up

Hopefully you will leave here today with a little bit more knowledge than you had before. It is extremely easy to lose track of things in regards to health and fitness and to be ill informed.

Being misinformed is usually where most myths come from and the fitness world is no different. Supplements have had a bad stigma with them over time because of the "too good to be true" notion. But as time goes on fitness supplements are becoming safer and even more reliable and ultimately being more widely accepted by everyone.

While there is no way to rid the world of all ignorance, at least we can try to do it piece by piece and what better way than to start with the most important aspect of human life; our health.

Great Video on the Subject

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    • mbasa profile image

      Zimkhitha 4 years ago from South Africa

      I always say that the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater when it comes to supplements. The quality of our foods has deteriorated and one cannot be sure that they receive enough on particular nutrients. I eat healthy however I lack on iron despite eating green leafies a lot. Iron supplements have become a friend and I feel more energetic.

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