Supplements can be a great way to get more of a necessary nutrient in your daily routine. However, they can be expensive and take not only a toll on your wallet but sometimes on your body as well.
“Supplements are just that, supplements, to an otherwise balanced diet. They should not be relied upon to avoid or ignore healthy eating patterns. Getting these nutrients in from food is always a better alternative, but this isn’t necessarily possible for everyone,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements.
Not only that but many popular supplements on the market aren’t proven to be effective. So unless your doctor or dietitian has suggested it, you may be wasting your money.
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“I would never spend money on a biotin supplement, specifically one marketed for hair, nails, and skin. Although biotin deficiency is known to cause symptoms like dry, thinning hair, biotin deficiency is very rare and the recommended daily intake of biotin is one that can be easily achieved with our diet with the inclusion of foods like eggs, seeds, and nuts. And according to Consumer Lab, in people who are not deficient, the evidence currently does not support the use of biotin supplements for improvements in thinning hair,” says Rachel Fine, RDN and founder of To The Pointe Nutrition.
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“Many people take melatonin, so I decided to give it a shot to possibly support my sleep. I did sleep well, but the next day I was incredibly groggy. I am usually a good sleeper anyway, so the melatonin actually did more harm than good for me,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility.
“I used to take vitamin C supplements during cold and flu season to help support my immune health. Once I learned that one kiwi provides almost 100% of the recommended intake of this nutrient, I stopped spending my money on the pills and started sticking to the yummy fruit instead. Eating kiwis also fuels my body with fiber and other nutrients, giving me even more bang for my buck,” says Manaker.
“While vitamin E is an antioxidant associated with health, it doesn’t mean that more is better. Vitamin E protects the vascular cells and is thought to be good for the heart, making these supplements popular. However, supplements do not seem to provide added value. Rather than taking a supplement, I suggest eating nuts, seeds, and vegetable oil, which are all naturally rich in vitamin E,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and member of our medical expert advisory board.
“Belly fat tea is the thing I’d never try or buy again. I am generally not into supplements, and I can’t recall the exact brand, but in college, I saw it somewhere and I just couldn’t resist the marketing. Could I really have a flatter stomach by drinking this non-FDA-approved tea concoction? The short answer is, nope,” says Justine Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of Eat This, Not That!
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“Many fish oil supplements go rancid fairly quickly, rendering them inflammatory instead of anti-inflammatory. They can also have undesirable side effects like fishy burps and do not always offer the health benefits touted. Overall, most people take fish oil without guidance from their doctors, and are trying to improve their health without changing their overall diet quality. I’d much rather see people spend that $50 or more per month on improving their diet quality with more whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables,” says Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD a registered dietitian and author of Recipe for Survival.