As a personal trainer and kickboxing coach, I’m often asked by clients and students about what kind of supplements they should be taking, and because of the misconceptions and bad information floating around, I often find myself addressing these five common concepts.
1. Supplements can fix any problems.
Repeat after me; there is no cure-all pill or powder. Supplements are not designed to treat or cure any conditions, merely to fill any gaps you may have in your diet. Marketing for so many of these products would have you believe that by taking it you can run for miles or live forever, but the truth is that these products are not miracles. By taking supplements in addition to a healthy diet and exercise, you can definitely gain additional benefits, but not solely due to the supplement.
2. Supplements can replace a healthy diet.
Lets start this one by remembering that supplement doesn’t mean replace! Once again, the purpose of a supplement is to fill gaps in your diet by providing necessary nutrients, not replace it completely. A recurring issue many people who rely on stacks of supplements instead of a well-rounded diet is an increase in the body’s toxicity. For example, the body stores excess amount of Vitamin A, which is fat soluble, primarily in the liver. Chronic intakes of excess Vitamin A lead to increased dizziness, nausea, headaches, skin irritation, pain in joints and bones, and has been associated with increased risk of Osteoporosis.
3. 100% All Natural means its good, right?
Not necessarily, what matters in a supplement are its nutritional facts, and products that claim to be all natural are not always superior or even safer than manufactured substances. Companies who market all natural ingredients have been caught for only using trace amount of these substances and instead using cheaper, filler products such as amino acids to fill bottles. With literally thousands of brands to choose from, READ THE LABEL to make sure you are getting the highest quality product.
4. Women shouldn’t use Protein powder because they will get bulky.
Ladies, the scientific truth is that you wont get bulky from protein shakes. Not even lifting weights like Arnold in his prime will do that. Women simply do not have the testosterone to produce massive amounts of muscle fibre. Instead, you will develop and carry lean muscle, for that toned look everybody is looking for! With a lack of protein and excessive cardiovascular exercise, the body is just going to break down the muscles you already have, making you softer and leaving your muscles stringy.
5. Supplements are NOT safe.
Now this is a tricky one. Primarily, supplements are derived from food sources; whey, fish, herbs, and our body treats them as such. Issues can arise however if you have an allergy to a certain ingredient, or component in the supplement. Some supplements contain semi-synthetic components, such as vitamins, minerals, or amino acids. Once again it becomes important to read the label to check for any dietary warnings, potency, and proper use. It is possible to “overdose” on supplements. It is a healthy practice to “unload” or cycle on and off supplements, and some supplements actually provide instruction on how long to cycle their product, once again highlighting the importance on reading the label!
We hope you found this resourceful.
Follow the links below to read articles that we found useful in writing this article:
Ross CA. Vitamin A. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:778-91
Ross A. Vitamin A and Carotenoids. In: Shils M, Shike M, Ross A, Caballero B, Cousins R, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006:351-75.
Solomons NW. Vitamin A. In: Bowman B, Russell R, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 9th ed. Washington, DC: International Life Sciences Institute; 2006:157-83.
The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. N Engl J Med 1994;330:1029-35.
Johnson EJ, Russell RM. Beta-Carotene. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:115-20.