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Supplement Science

August 21, 2013

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sup·ple·ment: something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole.

Dietary, herbal, and sport supplements are big business with world wide annual sales in the tens of billions of dollars and increasing every year. With the rise in popularity there is, of course, an increase in the companies that make supplements. Me personally I have no problem with the small to moderate use of supplements. If I have a long day at work a protein shake is a great bridge to my next meal. The problem I am starting to see is that people are relying on them to mask bad habits. Instead of working on making dietary and lifestyle changes people are using supplements for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

Supplements are not wholly evil. Just like the definition says, they help shore up an already healthy diet. Here are some steps to take to ensure that you are getting a good product:

1. Research- Supplements are regulated differently than food by the FDA and USDA. The FDA is responsible for taking action against unsafe products AFTER they have hit shelves (www.FDA.gov). The USDA does not “certify” or approve supplements or medical foods (www.USDA.gov). Do your due diligence to figure out what works better for you.

2. Question everything- The person trying to sell you the supplement may legitimately care about your health but know they have a financial incentive to get you buying the product. Ask why their supplements are better than others, how is it made, what is the safety record of the company etc.

3. Have an exit strategy- What are you going to do when you stop taking that particular supplement? Unless you plan on taking it forever you will stop at some point. In my experience a lot of people put on more weight after they are done taking weight loss supplements because they did not know how to handle the loss of structure.

4. Take the recommended dosage- Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Taking excess amounts of certain vitamins can cause you serious harm such as nausea, nerve damage, fatigue, etc

5. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any herbal, dietary, or sport supplement. Certain chemicals react differently to certain people and conditions so it is always smart to get a professional opinion on the matter.

Supplements are not the bad guy. Used as intended they can definitely help you lead a healthier life. Do not be fooled by claims that a particular supplement is a cure all. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is

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