Dietary Supplements: What Works?

In the last 20 years the consumption of dietary supplements (vitamins, herbals, enzymes) has boomed in North America. It is now a multi-billion dollar market. Over those years research into the effectiveness of these supplements has also grown and the scientific evidence for their use is now becoming established. Some are quite helpful for your health but many have little support. In this world of mass marketing and deceptive advertising how can you know what supplements you should take?

The website you can click onto here is a summary of 1500 randomized, controlled trials (the gold standard in research) of the available supplements. Each supplement is given an effectiveness rating for the health condition it is prescribed for (top of the page is good, bottom is bad). You can use the drop down menu on the side to see the different categories of supplements and the supplements reccommended for different health conditions.

It has always been my philosophy that the health benefits of supplementation are minimal compared to the the benefits of just changing the huge deficiencies in our regular diets. First, we eat way too many calories! Second we eat way too much fat, salt and sugar, generally in the form of processed food. And third, we eat far too little of fruits, vegetables and plain water.

If you have those three major issues under control, then I think supplementation is something to look at if you want to take the next step towards health. Please don’t look for “health in a bottle” if your diet stinks. You owe it to yourself to address the major dietary problems first. (You need Flash Player)