Supplements are a waste of money - right?

Posted by Mark Hamilton on

You do not need to take supplements! I hear this a lot from self professed experts in many walks of life. You don't need supplements, they don't work, they are a waste of money, you get it all from your food etc.

If you tell people you're thinking of becoming a vegetarian, many will suddenly become nutritional experts and give you many facts why you shouldn't. Supplements seem to have the same effect on people.

Over the last 25 years working in the natural supplement industry I have been told by many people INCORRECT information on their healthy diet, or what supplement does what.

I have heard Personal Trainers advice their clients that supplements are a waste of time, or on the flip side, recommend supplements that have appeared in the heavily advertised glossy health and fitness magazines. Is their knowledge proficient enough to do this?

I have seen people in the public eye on television arguing that there is no evidence that complementary supplements work!

WHAT? - All they have to do is click onto Pub Med, Google Scholar or pick up a book to see there are literally thousands of research papers, clinical trials, epidemiological studies and meta-studies on vitamins, minerals and herbs, and complementary therapies.

My Opinion.

This is my personal opinion and I respect that others may disagree with me. My personal opinion is based on 25 years professional experience advising on natural supplements. This obviously doesn't mean you have to agree, you make up your own mind. Good quality, well presented supplements do work.

You don't need to take multivitamins you get enough in your food.

Well for me to comment on this statement let me break down the modern diet. It is typically quick meals, fast food microwaveable, ready meals for many (not everyone of course.

There are those who eat a "Healthy Diet" fruit and vegetables - which are generally smothered in chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, mass produces and often genetically modified. Ohh! The suppliers tend to poison our fruit and veg this way to keep the apples round and shiny and have a longer shelf life, to keep are carrots spirit level straight and the right shade of orange and not go off for 6 months. Many key trace minerals are no longer present in our soil due to over farming so not in our food. You get the point. So what are all these things doing to the micronutrients, vitamins and minerals in the food?

Don't get me wrong, I have always talked about diet with everyone and the importance of eating well and balanced, organic if possible. 

However - I do personally feel there is a place in everyone's lives to take a GOOD quality, daily multivitamin that suits them, their activity levels and their lifestyles. Some people may need more antioxidants, some more b vitamins for lack of energy and a stressful life, some more minerals due to lack of them in a diet, some more of everything due to being so active and working out etc.

So my personal opinion is actually WE DO need to take a multivitamin and mineral daily EVEN if we have a very good diet.

Don't take more than the RDA (recommended daily allowance) or you WILL DIE!

Ok apologies, a little excessive but do people who make such claims actually aware of what they are talking about. For example, if I were to make such a bold statement, the first thing I would do is find out what a RDA actually was.

Let me tell you

RDAs, which were first developed during World war 2 in 1941 and published in 1943. They were basically values recommended on the food available at the time (time of rationing) of what people should try and get into themselves. These RDA's were reviewed every 5-10 years up until 1968 (nearly 50 years ago) and haven't been updated on labels since.

Many suggest the RDA's were based on the minimum amount of nutrients required to prevent you getting a disease. However, I havent any fact based evidence to confirm this point.

So let me give you an example of this. 

The current RDA for Vitamin C is currently 60mg per day. Some people argue that more than this is dangerous.

A large orange contains just under 100mg of Vitamin C - you take your life into your own hands if you dare have 2. PLUS - Vitamin C is water soluble, it's typically used up in under 2 hours, Yet the recommended DAILY allowance is 60mg. 

Nutrient Presentations! - Another point worth mentioning is the actual presentation of a vitamin or mineral. Depending on the presentation of the supplement often depends on how much we absorb.

For example - If you have 100mg of Calcium Citrate and 100mg of Calcium Carbonate you would absorb different amounts of each depending on your physiology etc. Typically you would absorb up to 80mg of calcium citrate and potentially 6mg of calcium carbonate. 

I think thats enough on that i'm sure, but food for thought.

All Supplements are a waste of money!

So after all that I get round to giving you my personal opinion. My personal opinion obviously is NO, all supplements are not a waste of money. If I thought that I would have been living a lie for the last 25 years plus and why would I have a sports nutrition company.


There always seems to be a however with me. I would suggest that many supplements on the market today ARE A WASTE OF MONEY. That's going to annoy a lot of people in the supplement industry. My own opinion, which doesn't necessarily make it right.

I think there are some fantastic supplements out there, getting some incredible results. I have witnessed and had feed back on thousands if not tens of thousands of positive, sometimes life changing results. Unfortunately these seem to be out numbered by mass produced, poor quality, low grade, poorly presented, snake oil, magic pill, marketing lead supplements that are a complete and utter waste of money.

My Advice.

Ask questions, read labels, do research, buy off people you trust, if its on TV it's usually a lie, eat well first, more is not better, better absorption is better.

Don't listen to people who have limited knowledge or are using research from 15 years ago. New research is coming out all the time.

Rather than shop mass market, shop with specialists like good independent supplement shops. If you sense they are selling to you rather than advising, leave and never return. Go somewhere else where you know they have your best interests at heart not theirs.

I hope this gave you food for thought, whether you are a believer or not. It's good to open our minds to opinions and if you took the time to read this, then I thank you.


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