5 Top Nutritional Supplement Myths Debunked

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

You’d be surprised at the number of "supplement myths" we hear about and respond to every day.

It’s actually gotten so bad that we've decided to write a blog post on it. So, here we are.

Anyway, as a former health advisor on Life Extension’s advisor line, I can tell you that I’ve definitely heard my fair share of myths.

And sure - some of them have been funny, but many have just been flat-out disturbing.

And, of course, believing in these myths is not going to make any of us any healthier. So, let's see if we can help squash them once and for all.

Below are the top five supplement myths we'd like to see wiped from our collective awareness. Ready?

Supplement Myth 1: More = Better

Sometimes people will take a large dose of a supplement in an effort to get immediate or better results. This is totally unnecessary.

In fact, in certain cases, less is more.

The bottom line is that you should take a dose that is clinically based. For example, if a study shows that 300 mcg of melatonin supports sleep, that’s all you’ll probably need.

A higher dose of a supplement won’t necessarily get you quicker or better results. For some people, a higher dose can actually produce an unwanted effect, like insomnia.

So, please stick with research-supported supplement dosages. More does not equal better.

Myth 2: Supplements Should Dissolve in Water!

“If this supplement doesn’t dissolve in a glass of water; it won’t dissolve in your stomach.”

Ouch - how many times have we heard this one?

Look - your stomach acid is composed of hydrochloric acid. It’s one of the most corrosive compounds around.

When concentrated, it can even dissolve metal! That’s why many of us literally laugh when we hear this myth being repeated.

Putting a pill in a glass of water in no way simulates the conditions in your stomach. Water has a slightly neutral pH— and yes, it can dissolve substances, but not nearly as effectively as hydrochloric acid can.

Supplement companies will test their products for dissolution. This is part of the quality control process. And want to know a secret? They don’t use water for the tests!

Myth 3: Supplements Give Immediate Results

Many people think that if a supplement doesn’t offer noticeable results in a couple of days, it simply doesn’t work at all.

This is totally false, but I get it … I’ve been guilty of this too. The truth is we all want immediate results. We live in a “fast-food world,” remember?

However, when it comes to supplements, a little bit of patience can often go a very long way.

You can typically estimate a working time-frame by looking at the related clinical research. What you’re looking for in any given study is “how long did supplement x take to produce a desired effect?”

If it took three months in the study, then that’s what you should aim for — although everybody is different and shouldn’t necessarily expect the same results.

There is no general rule of thumb for time frames, but to play it safe, always give it at least a couple of months.  

Consistency and patience are what usually produce results. Sorry to break the news to you. ;-)

Myth 4: Supplements Hurt Liver and Kidney Function

“If you take a lot of supplements, you’ll ruin your liver and kidney function.”

This couldn’t be any further from the truth. In actuality, many supplements will enhance kidney and liver function, not harm it.

For example, vitamins and minerals are cofactors in your liver’s natural detoxification process. And there are a number of herbs which help this process as well. Beyond that, there are even antioxidants that protect your kidneys from the toxins they filter on a daily basis.

So what actually is likely to harm your liver and kidneys? All the excess salt and sugar consumed in a typical Western diet. This will actually stress out your liver, warranting a higher intake of nutrients for the detoxification process.

Myth 5: All Supplements are Created Equal

“All supplement products are the same; it doesn’t matter where you buy them.”

False! To make a good quality supplement you need three things … and not every company delivers them.

You need quality raw materials, clinically supported dosages in the product, and scrupulous manufacturing practices. Unfortunately, many companies out there cut corners and end up making low quality and/or ineffective products.

If you’re looking for a high quality supplement product, do your research. With time, you’ll notice that all companies are certainly NOT the same.

Don't buy a supplement just because the bottle on the shelf lists the ingredient name you're after. Do some digging first - it could make all the difference in the world.

What’s Your Take?

Supplement myths abound, and we’ve only skimmed the surface in this post.

So, what myths about nutritional supplements drive you absolutely crazy? Please tell us in the comments!

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17 comments:

Unknown said...

If the stomach contains strong acid then why do so many of the cheap drustore one-a-day type vitamins end up visible and undigested in the toilet or port-a-potty?

LifeExtension said...

Unknown - Good question! Actually that person may have low stomach acid to begin with. This becomes more common as a person ages.

Jimmi Andersen said...

Are the dosages in the two per day tablets clinically based? If yes where can i read about it and why do I get big sore pimbles when taking the supplement?(too much vitamin b6 and b12?).

Anonymous said...

What I have always heard when u take supplements is that u get expensive urine

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - That would've been a good topic to cover- perhaps in the next blog. While it's true that you don't absorb 100% of the supplements you take (the same applies for medicines BTW), countless studies show the benefits of supplementation.

LifeExtension said...

Jimmi Andersen - Yes the dosages in the Two per Day are research- based. Unfortunately, we don't have an article which discusses the dosing in this product. We do have a short description on our website: http://www.lef.org/Vitamins-Supplements/Item01714/Two-Per-Day-Capsules.html

We apologize for your reaction while taking the Two per Day. Your reaction is not common, so it's difficult to pinpoint its exact cause. What we do know is that vitamin B6 and B12 can trigger acne in certain some people. You may want to cut back to one tablet a day and see if that helps. Otherwise, you can return the product for a full refund if it's been within a year of purchase.

Anonymous said...

Another myth I heard as well is just eat a balanced diet and no need to take suplements

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - Another common one! The reality is that farm soils as well as processed foods are nutrient depleted. A multi helps to make up for that.Perhaps we'll cover this one in a different blog. :-)

Anonymous said...

I've been reeding abuot your products in the last few weeks from a coworkerand he is in his late 50s and in excellent health. I'm in my late 40s and in good health, but i lack a good diet. I do take a performance multivitamin and i want to know if that is good enough for my age group.

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - What's the name of the product? Give us a little more info and we can help you out. :-)

Mouz lo said...

This is my great pleasure to visit your website and to enjoy your excellent post here. Thank you for sharing with us.

LifeExtension said...

Mouz lo - Glad you liked it! Come again.

Patience Sharp said...

Just found this, what a great article! I'm afraid I was always one of those myth believers, I thought they all were a big waste of time and money. I'm glad I started researching and know better now. Sharing this on the @TrustedNutrient Twitter feed...you have great info here.

LifeExtension said...

Patience Sharp - Thanks for reading!

Amelia said...

I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article. A dietary supplement is intended to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities.
Supplements as generally understood include vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, or amino acids, among other substances. U.S. authorities define dietary supplements as foods, while elsewhere they may be classified as drugs or other products.

Life Extension said...

Amelia - Thanks! We appreciate the kind words.

Amy said...

Thanks for sharing. We need to know the other supplement like Ergogenic aids are substances that are claimed to help enhance energy utilization and performance in the body. Information on nutritional supplements aimed at athletes and exercisers is provided, including potential supplement dangers.

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