The #1 Worst Reason to Take a Supplement

·4 min read

From good skin to weight loss, there's a supplement for almost anything and millions of Americans have been turning to them for decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 58% of U.S. adults ages 20 and over take dietary supplements. While supplements can be beneficial for vitamin deficiencies, there's plenty of other reasons not to take them, experts say. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who share what to know before taking supplements and the worst reasons to take them. As always, please consult your physician for medical advice and before taking supplements as many can have harmful side effects and adverse interactions with medications. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

What to Know Before Taking Supplements

Shot of woman nutritionist doctor writes the medical prescription for a correct diet on a desk with fruits, pills and supplements.
Shot of woman nutritionist doctor writes the medical prescription for a correct diet on a desk with fruits, pills and supplements.

Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of Better Than Dieting and author of Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table tells us, "Before pumping yourself with supplements you may not even need, you should take a closer look at your diet to see what may not be covered. For example, if you have osteoporosis, taking a supplement containing calcium and vitamin D could be important for you. You should also take a deeper dive into your particular medical needs instead of falling prey to advertisements or what your hairdresser might recommend for you." 

2

I Need Energy

Man sitting on bed holding his head.
Man sitting on bed holding his head.

Taub-Dix says, "The worst reason to take a supplement is if you're looking for energy. Only food can provide energy and if you're feeling listless, take a closer look at your diet or perhaps your sleep habits."

3

Because Maybe It's Just Better to Take Supplements

Dr. Jacob Hascalovici MD, PhD as the Clearing Chief Medical Officer if you use this information tells us, "More is more, we often think, and many people hold that to be true for supplements as well. After all, once you've passed by entire stores dedicated to supplements or seen the aisle full of them at some drugstores, you may start to wonder if you, too, could be benefiting from at least one of these many supplements on offer. So some people take them…just because. They pick one, a couple, or even more, and incorporate them into their day. However, if you're eating and working out in a generally healthy, balanced way, you may not need those supplements. You may also be taking unnecessary health risks, since some supplements, such as St. John's Wort can interact in a negative way with other supplements, vitamins, or medications. Additionally, not all supplements are produced according to the specific regulations or standards, and so you may be swallowing contaminants or getting a less than ideal product."  

4

It's Easier to Swallow a Supplement Than Eat Healthy Foods

Dr. Hascalovici shares, "For some, a supplement seems to offer the chance to make up for less-than-ideal eating habits. Maybe certain supplements, they reason, can offset fat-heavy foods that don't contain enough vitamins and nutrients. Or maybe supplements can help ensure they're getting everything they need. It's a logical thought process, but researchers advise getting as much of your nutrients from natural foods as possible. So if you're regularly eating lots of fruits and vegetables along with healthy carbs and proteins, you may just not need those supplements."  

5

My Favorite Celebrity Takes It


Dr. Jacob Hascalovici states, "Supplement makers are highly motivated to convince you that you need their products, and it's unfortunately easy for them to make broad claims about supplements' ability to improve your health, give you more energy, make your hair shiny, and so on and so forth. It's wise to take claims you read in advertising or infotainment with a big grain of salt – just because certain athletes, celebrities, influencers, or friends take certain supplements doesn't mean you should, too. For one thing, supplements can be very expensive, and you may be just flushing money through yourself, essentially. For another, there are many facets of health and wellbeing, supplements being only one of them. You're more likely to get the glowing skin, uplifted mood, or other outcomes you're seeking if you pay attention to these other facets as well."