Dietary supplements and vitamins provide little to no benefits and may be risky reports show.
Shelves are lined with vitamins and supplements at health food, grocery, and corner drugstores promising to help improve our health in one way or another. According to the Harvard Special Health Report, The Truth About Vitamins and Minerals, approximately half of Americans take some form of dietary supplement on a regular basis and in 2012, they spent nearly $28 billion on them. But do supplements really work? Experts have studied this for years and here’s what you should know.
Are Supplements Safe?
Do your homework when it comes to supplements and vitamins.
In the bestselling book, Choosing the StrongPath, co-authors Fred Bartlit and Steven Droullard said that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food Drug Administration (FDA), “…jointly point out that dietary supplements may seem like harmless health boosters.”
A study published in the journal Clinical Toxicology found that some body-building and weight-loss supplements contain two previously unknown ingredients, ingredients that were never reported to the FDA and appear to be derivates of two banned stimulants.
In a separate study, some supplements were linked to severe liver damage. Researchers investigating the causes of liver damage reported to the Drug Induced Liver Injury Network found that 20 percent of the cases could be linked to supplement use. That’s an increase of seven percent from a decade ago. The study, published in the journal Hepatology, said that over half of those supplement-related cases were linked to body-building and weight-loss products.
What About Fish Oil ?
Debate remains about the impact of fish oil on muscle.
At the 2019 International Conference on Frailty and Sarcopenia Research, StrongPath spoke with Dr. Eduardo Ferriolli, MD., Ph.D, Department of Medicine, Ribeirão Preto Medical School, University of São Paulo, who has been studying the benefits of fish oil supplements. His research has shown that, “when you exercise and take tablets with fish oil you get improvement in muscle strength that is better than exercising only.” Dr. Ferriolli’s study focused on sarcopenic older women.
However, Dr. Ferriolli also said, “If someone is getting older, or if they’re falling down to lower levels of energy and muscle mass or strength, we really need to look at this and say now we need to do something because this person is getting frail or is getting sarcopenic. We really need to see the person when things are starting to get wrong so you can intervene early. That’s the best thing to do.”
In 2017, an advisory group from The American Heart Association wrote that fish oil may help prevent death in someone who has had a heart attack. However, the association said that claims of overall heart health from the supplements have been shown to be very limited. Only two of more than 24 studies since 2005 have shown any difference between the effects of fish oil and placebos on the heart.
No Magic Pills, Just Exercise and Resistance Training
No vitamin or supplement can replace the overall health benefits of daily physical activity. Regular exercise boosts energy, mental health, sharpens the mind and only consistent strength training increases strength
Dr. Marni Boppart, Head of Molecular Muscle Physiology Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, Urbana—Champaign, said in Choosing the StrongPath that, “Single-factor therapies are never effective…exercise can maintain or enhance strength and cognition because multiple systems are activated and synergize with one another.”
There are no substitutes for a good exercise and strength training regimen. . As people age, many are fearful of starting a high-intensity training program. The research shows that such a program can increase muscle strength by 49 percent in just six weeks. That increased strength can improve balance and coordination, and endurance, all important benefits for seniors battling the effects of sarcopenia. It can help all of us live better lives.