The supplement industry is rife with intentional market confusion. Its engineers aim to part you with your hard earned money. In this article, I hope to not only give a few tips on careful supplementation, but save you money too!
#1 You think cost equals quality
For many supplements, the supply chain is limited. Take ubiquinol for example – there is only one supplier of ubiquinol; therefore every ubiquinol supplement on the market contains the same ingredient. After doing a brief comparison on Amazon, ubiquinol supplements range from $2.75 – $12 per gram (USD). Where is the extra money going? Towards packaging, fillers, and advertising. Many supplements are the the same way, yet we are tricked into buying more expensive supplements because of clever marketing tactics.
#2 If some is good, more is better
Sola dosis facit venenum – the dose makes the poison (Paracelsus). For every supplement there is a Goldilocks range for effectiveness. If you take too little, you will be missing out on some health benefits, but if you take too much, you can do yourself harm. It is important that you do not overdo your supplements. A quick search on “hypervitaminosis” will show you that overdosing is not a good idea. Do your research and make sure that you stay in the Goldilocks range.
#3 Thinking that a multivitamin has enough minerals
Most people should be supplementing with 8.5mg of magnesium per kilogram of body weight. The average multivitamin only contains 100mg of magnesium. Unless you weigh 30lbs, that is not going to cut it. Due to the soil depletion from large commercial farming operations, we do not get as many minerals from our produce as we once did. If you take a multivitamin, double check the mineral doses and make sure you are getting enough.
#4 Natural vitamins are better
Every once in a while, I come across a supplement that claims to be “all natural,” or made from fruits and vegetables. This is another clever marketing tactic that allows them to charge more for their product. When is the last time you took a nature hike and saw a tree producing vitamin C capsules, or “healthy green powder” mix? It is all synthetic, and if a company boasts, “…well, our product is more naturaler than yours,” it is just as ridiculous as it sounds.
#5 You should take supplements every day
The human body adapts to its environment. When you challenge yourself by exercising, it responds by increasing lean body tissue. When you make it easier for yourself by taking antioxidants, the liver produces less enzymes that synthesize glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. Most of our supplements should be cycled. Take additional support if you are sick, traveling, or under high stress. On relaxing weekends, consider taking a break from your supplements. Make your liver do some of the work so that it does not downregulate the natural production of its own healing substrates.
#6 You take supplements in the wrong form
There are many different vitamins that are classified as “B vitamins.” Vitamin B3, for example, can be taken as niacin, nicotinic acid, niacinamide, nicotinamide, or inositol hexanicotinate, and they all have different effects on the body. Which one is right for you? A lot of it has to do with genetics. It is important to know your genetic profile and be familiar with your polymorphisms (genetic mutations). If you are an under methylator, or have a mutated MTHFR gene (or two), you need to take B vitamins that have been methylated. If not, you would do better with one of the other forms.
#7 Taking supplements at the wrong time
I cringe at the gym every time I see someone taking vitamin C after a workout. Vitamin C downregulates mTOR, the gene responsible for building lean tissue mass. Vitamin C inhibits this gene from being expressed keeping the body in a catabolic state reducing the effectiveness of the workout. Many supplements have to be taken at a certain time, or it could produce unwanted consequences. Take your Vitamin D3 in the morning, take your amino acids on an empty stomach, and do not take stimulants before bed!
#8 Mixing supplements counterintuitively
Why would anyone take oregano oil with a probiotic? Oregano oil kills bacteria. Probiotics contain bacteria. They simply cancel each other out. Pay attention to what you are taking, when you are taking it, and have an understanding of what you are doing.
#9 You take supplements that do not work
The supplement industry is a breeding ground for scam artists and snake oil salesman. Flashy marketing tactics surrounding testosterone enhancement and weight loss is a multibillion dollar industry. They prey on people’s insecurities and sell them products that do not work. Take a quick look down the supplement aisle of your local drug store, and you will see stretch mark cream, raspberry ketones, sublingual HGH boosters, and wheat grass all make unsubstantiated claims that have been refuted by peer-reviewed scientific research. Do not be taken in by bogus advertising – do the research before you buy!
#10 Taking supplements that are harmful
Aconite is an herb that comes from ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal remedies that is sometimes found in children’s cold, flu, and headache supplements. According to this study, it has been shown to be cardiotoxic and can make it difficult for the heart to beat regularly. There are other supplements that are sold over the counter every day that are just as dangerous. Do your research, and be careful!
If you would like to know more information about supplements, there is a lot of free information on Fix Your Gut. We are also doing live streams on Google Hangouts every Wednesday at 9pm (8pm central) to share information about scientific research that we have found that can improve your quality of life. We hope to see you then!
Written by Jason Hooper