Think you know about supplements? Top 5 myths busted – ProHealth


By Karen Lee Richards

People are becoming more health conscious, but myths and misconceptions about vitamins and supplements continue to abound. What do you really know about dietary supplements? Do you even need to take them? If you take them, how much should you take and when? Are they still safe?

Myths about vitamins and supplements

1. If you have a healthy diet, you don’t need supplements.

Although this may have been true 100 years ago, it is no longer the case. Our fruits and vegetables are only as nutritious as the soil in which they grow. And the sad reality is that the nutrient content of much of our soil has been so stripped and polluted in recent decades that the plants grown there no longer have the same nutrient value as they once did. a century.

Plus, most of us lead such busy lives that it’s nearly impossible to buy, prepare, and cook three totally healthy meals a day. As hard as we may try, sometimes we have to rely on prepared, packaged, or even fast food in order to accomplish everything we need to do in a day.

There are also individual factors to consider. Even someone who follows the healthiest diet and eats the most balanced meals may have increased nutritional needs due to genetics, aging, or chronic disease that cannot be met through food alone.

A good example is the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Every cell in your body is fueled by CoQ10, but CoQ10 levels decline with age and are often low in people with various health conditions.

However, it is virtually impossible to significantly increase your CoQ10 through food sources alone. To get 100 mg of CoQ10 from food, you need to eat 133 cups of cabbage, 77 cups of broccoli, 921 oysters, or five pounds of beef liver. The only way to provide your body with the extra CoQ10 it may need is to take supplements.

2. Taking a daily multivitamin can make up for what’s missing from your diet.

Sometimes people treat multivitamins like an insurance policy, thinking that they will cover all the nutritional needs that they might miss due to poor eating habits. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. Although taking a multivitamin can be helpful, even the best supplements cannot replace a healthy diet.

Another issue with depending on a multivitamin to cover your nutritional needs is the challenge of deciding which multivitamin to choose. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different multivitamins on the market, and they all contain different combinations and amounts of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. If you want to take a multivitamin, you need to determine which contains the best combination of nutrients to meet your specific needs.

Ideally, you should be tested for a wide variety of nutrients to find out if there are any deficiencies that you need to fill. While a multivitamin can be a good place to start, you may also need to add specific individual nutrients to support areas where you might be lacking.

3. The higher the dose, the better.

Some people have the philosophy that less is good, more is better. It’s rarely a good rule to follow for anything in life, including supplements. While some supplements are relatively safe and effective at fairly high doses, others can actually lose effectiveness and some can even become toxic.

Generally, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body and are more likely to become toxic when taken in excessive amounts. On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins do not accumulate in the body, but even these can sometimes cause unpleasant side effects if taken in excessive amounts.

Then there are supplements like Undenatured Chicken Collagen (OsteoTec UC II) that require fairly precise dosing. Small amounts can be very effective in relieving joint pain – more than twice as effective as glucosamine and chondroitin – however, in higher doses they may actually have the opposite effect.

It’s important to review any supplements you’re considering and determine the right dose for your particular needs.

4. Supplements are natural, so they must be safe.

In the world of supplements, natural means that a supplement comes from a natural source, such as plants, rather than being man-made or synthetic. But just because something comes from a plant doesn’t automatically mean it’s safe. After all, water hemlock is a natural plant, but eating it can be fatal. Of course, natural supplements aren’t made from poisonous plants, however, they can still be dangerous if you take too much of them, as mentioned above.

Another thing that many people don’t realize is that even natural supplements can interact with medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your doctor knows about any supplements you might be taking. When your doctor asks you for a list of medications you take, be sure to include supplements on that list. And since many doctors are unfamiliar with supplements and their potential drug interactions, it’s also a good idea to make sure your pharmacist has this list as well.

If you want to check for drug interactions yourself, Medscape offers a drug interaction checker where you can enter all the medications and supplements you are taking or considering to find out if there are any potential interactions.

5. It doesn’t matter when or how you take your supplements.

Sometimes we’re just happy when we remember to take our supplements, and we may not think that when and how we take them matters. But just like with medication, things like the time of day and with or without food can make a difference.

Some supplements work best on an empty stomach, so it’s usually best to take them in the morning before you eat anything. Others are much more effective when taken with food, so should be taken with a meal. Then there are the fat-soluble nutrients that need to be taken with a fat-containing meal to be truly effective.

Be sure to always read the instructions on the label of your supplements. It should tell you not only the recommended dose, but also whether when and how you take it is a factor.


Supplements can be a wonderful addition to your wellness plan. provide essential support to help improve your overall health and well-being. As with most things in life, you just need to educate yourself and make sure you use them wisely and responsibly.


Karen Lee Richards is the editor of ProHealth. A fibromyalgia sufferer herself, she co-founded the nonprofit now known as the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) in 1997 and served as its vice president for eight years. She was also editor-in-chief of Aware of fibromyalgia magazine. After leaving the NFA, Karen served as a fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome guide for the New York Times website, then worked for eight years as a chronic pain health guide for the HealthCentral Network before to join ProHealth.


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