Can You Believe the Supplement Hype?

I was flipping through the Globe & Mail newspaper this morning and came across a nice article by Adriana Barton entitled ‘You’re not a mouse. So why should you be treated like one?’ The article highlights how many of the compelling news bits you read about health promoting exercises, foods, and supplements are based on ANIMAL studies. Just because it’s good for a mouse, does that mean it’s good for you?

I enjoyed this article because every year the supplement market is inundated with products ‘from the depths of the jungle’ that make exaggerated claims - promising a slimmer waistline and better body- without HUMAN trials to back them up. Just because a mouse lost weight taking a certain product, does NOT mean you will. Unfortunately, slick marketing campaigns can trick people into thinking so. Not only are these false promises, they also give a bad rap to the supplement industry as a whole.

The author goes on to highlight how important it is for patients to get second opinions from reputable websites – such as the Mayo Clinic and John Hopkins University – before adopting new treatment protocol or supplements, which I agree with whole heartedly.

However, she falls short with her conservative recommendations. With supplement use being so widespread, the public needs reliable websites to review and discuss the PROS and CONS of such supplements… based on the latest evidence from the scientific literature. While the aforementioned sites are great, their expertise does NOT lie in supplementation or nutrition. You need to also consult experts in the fields of integrative and functional medicine, as they are the ones using these supplements on a day-to-day basis

Your best bet is to consult National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a free website that focuses on peer-reviewed, unbiased, evidence-based scientific studies that will give you the bottom line on specific nutrients and supplements. If you want even more in-depth analysis, paid websites such as the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database are very thorough and informative. Alternatively, I would recommend working with a qualified doctor who is trained in nutrition and supplementation to help guide you through the process.

I think it’s great that more and more people are taking a pro-active role in their health. Just remember, the internet is not always ‘unbiased’ so having a reliable resource to guide you through the process is invaluable.

 Yours in health,

 Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CSCS