Supplements: Do you know what you are putting in your body?

Do you take supplements?  Do you feel the benefits outweigh any risks?

While I do believe some supplements can be beneficial for certain people, I am not a huge fan of supplements and I will tell you why…

For one, I have always been a firm believer that the general public can get all of our nutritional needs from a healthy, well-nourished diet. Of course, that does not guarantee we can or will always eat as healthy as we should!

A few years back, I was personal training at a gym in Arizona. Part of their training program involved selling clients on supplements and a diet plan. Being young and a bit new in the health field, I was eager to learn and took in as much information as I could.

As new trainers, we were taught that there is no way our clients can eat a balanced enough diet on their own and therefor they need supplements. We were taught more about how to sell the products and what to say than what the supplements actually did for our bodies and the science behind the claims. (Ex: If you are trying to lose weight, I recommend taking XYZ supplement because it will increase your metabolism and therefor burn more calories.)

Ugh, that statement makes me cringe! There was no facts or research backing up the statement that the ingredients in the pill did what they claim to do and that there was no warning about risks or side effects! I questioned supplements from the start, but was willing to be open minded…

As trainers for this company, we were hired to not only train clients but also promote this gym’s supplement line. We were indeed informed that supplements are not FDA approved. We were also informed that while other supplements may not be what they claim to be, this company was top of the line and backed my doctors and top trainers.

Ok, so maybe their supplements are the best and maybe they are safe, but MAYBE they aren’t!? Since dietary supplement firms do not need FDA approval to market and sell their products, it is very difficult for the general population to determine myth from fact and very easy for companies to mislead consumers!

It is the company’s responsibility to make sure its products are safe and that any claims are true.  If any safety issues are suspected, the FDA will investigate and remove the product from shelves if needed. However, it is much easier for a firm to get a product on the market than it is for FDA to take a product off the market. (sourceThat is crazy, valuable information! 

Michael Levy, the director of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance, warns Americans about tainted dietary supplements saying, “We’ve found (some) weight-loss products marketed as supplements that contain dangerous concoctions of hidden ingredients including seizure medications, blood pressure medications, and other drugs not approved in the U.S.”

The FDA has recalled more than 40 products marketed for weight loss with potentially harmful ingredients and has issued consumer alerts about dozens more. The agency also has issued warning letters, seized products, and criminally prosecuted people responsible for these illegal diet products.

Second and third reason I am not a fan of supplements: For the fact that supplements are too unknown and not regulated by the FDA, I do not feel that the potential risks and misleading information are worth the claims!

My blog subtitle is: The secret is hard work, sweat, and determination – clearly I do not believe in quick fixes that many dietary supplements claim to sell consumers on!

So you may thinking, “Well of course the diet pills are full of myths, but herbal supplements are probably safe.” But once again, these are not regulated or tested by the FDA and many studies are inconclusive. If you do a basic search on the web, you will find many articles, studies, and testimonials about various supplements resulting in some very interesting findings. You might be surprised by what you read or what you thought you knew!

The more you read accredited sources (which the average American will not do because these articles tend to be longer and more technical), the more it becomes clear that there does not seem to be straight answers and definite facts to support many supplements’ claims.

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