Sifting through the supplement hype

It seems that every time you turn on the television, read a magazine or check out Supplements in Handthe latest bestselling books – someone claims to have discovered the next miracle method to:

  • Lose weight
  • Be healthier
  • Look younger
  • Feel happier

The vast majority of these claims typically take a little truth and mix in some fancy ideas to make it suddenly appear revolutionary (anybody remember chromium picolinate?).

While many of these claims are completely unbelievable, they may still seem valid through some other factor. For example, someone selling a weight loss method could tell you that you also need to follow particular guidelines for the method to work best.

You’re tricked into thinking that it’s your fault if it doesn’t work for you. You were told that by taking the supplement or using the device they’re selling would work; as long as you did something like reduce calories or get more exercise. Was it what they sold you that caused weight loss? Or was it eating less and moving more?

Don’t Believe All the Claims

We’ve all heard it before: “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true.”

If it were so easy to lose weight, look younger, be stronger or even smarter, then we would all be thin, gorgeous, and brighter than Einstein. Don’t be naïve when you read the claims many supplement brands are making. Would anything that really worked that good be available without a prescription? The reason the illegal steroid trade exists is that those supplements obviously don’t work that well, if at all.

If you’re looking for a miracle wrinkle remover, then remember that so far, there are no plastic surgeons being put out of business. If it were as easy as using a face cream or pill, then 50-year-old actresses would still be playing high-school students and not grandmothers.

Does anything work as advertised?

That isn’t to say that there are no supplements or weight loss plans that work as advertised. You just need to do your research. It’s true that vitamin D supplements will prevent winter flu, help treat seasonal affective disorder, and prevent cardiovascular disease. There is solid research that proves it. It doesn’t mean that taking vitamin D will make you bullet-proof – no matter what anyone says in an ad.

There are lots of herbal extracts and supplements that can speed healing, encourage restful sleep, and relieve pain. A quick online search will find many peer-reviewed research studies by scientists who conducted experiments to find out what they could do. Do not trust what that ad in the latest health magazine says without finding out more from reliable sources.

The oldest trick in the book

Were you ever tempted to call the number on a TV, radio or print ad and fork over your credit card number for the solution to your problem? Think hard and ask to see the fine print. Many times consumers don’t just agree to a one time purchase. Unscrupulous companies will automatically subscribe you to recurring orders that are automatically charged to your credit card. Buyer beware isn’t just a saying, it’s a way of life in our consumer-based society.

Don’t let them play on your fears, insecurity, and laziness

The supplement salesmen are just that; salesmen. They are not medical professionals; their job is to sell you a product. They don’t care if you can’t afford it, should be using a cheaper alternative or if it doesn’t work as advertised.

They do this by playing on your emotions. Just like a deodorant commercial that makes you think that if you don’t use the product that they’re flogging you’ll lose all your friends. Don’t fall for it.

We all know that the only healthy way to lose weight and stay healthy is by exercising and watching what we eat. But, it’s so tempting to believe someone who promises quick, effortless results. Use your common sense and tune those jokers out.

Fads come and go

pill bottle and pillsWhether it’s an exercise program, diet aid or wrinkle remover; the same ideas are used over and over again. It could be under a new name or wrapped in fancy terminology, but it’s the same old scam. Think back a bit, and I’m sure you’ll remember some doozies:

  • The ab-roller
  • Juice diets
  • The raw diet
  • Weight loss tea
  • Anything hawked by a celebrity (calling Chuck Norris…)

But every year some version of these old ideas keep on coming back dressed up with new hype.

Stick to the facts

There are many herbal, vitamin, and nutritional supplements that will do what the label says it will. Many herbs have significant benefits for a broad range of health conditions. Vitamins are necessary to maintain a healthy metabolism and prevent disease. Protein powders and supplements like creatine have real science backing them.

If you remember to ignore the hype, don’t believe everything you’re told, and always find a reliable source of information to verify what you hear about the health and fitness aids that are continually being pushed on the media you’ll:

  • Save money
  • Stay healthy
  • Find products that really work

Don’t forget, when it comes to your health, stick to the facts. Also don’t discount that herbal tea is an ancient and well documented way to get your supplements. That history is a form of validation of those teas and there effects.

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Matt Bradley

I am an enthusiast of Healthy Living through the communal sharing of experiences and science. As a Zen practitioner I enjoy learning about ways to be in touch with my inner balance and imparting the information to others. I also enjoy a good snort of bourbon but will not try and impart that passion on our readers here.

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