General Question

_zen_'s avatar

Do you take any supplements? Why? How did you decide it would work - and how long did you take it until you decided it was a waste of money?

Asked by _zen_ (7854points) May 27th, 2011

Or, perhaps you take something and it actually does work for you.

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15 Answers

Ajulutsikael's avatar

St. John’s Wort seemed to work pretty well for me. Citrus Bergamot also works for me as well.

funkdaddy's avatar

The question seems to be worded with the slant that all supplements are a waste?

Alcohol has a measurable effect on the body, and no one questions it.
Nicotine has a measurable effect on the body, and no one questions it.
Caffeine has a measurable effect on the body, and no one questions it.

But suddenly when something is labeled a supplement, it’s snake oil.

I take a vitamin in the morning, I have no conclusive proof it does anything but the only reasons I’ve read not to take one involve risks with extreme doses of certain items. I don’t trust my diet to get me everything I need so $6/mo is cheap insurance and anecdotally I seem to get sick less when I take it. I talked it over with my doctor and a nutritionist. The nutritionist highly recommended it, the doctor’s conclusion was “it can’t hurt”.

Most of the other stuff I’ve tried falls into either trying to help me sleep, or trying to help me heal up.

To sleep I’ve tried magnesium based stuff like Natural Calm, and I’ve tried melatonin pills.

The Natural Calm is definitely relaxing and I prefer it to sleeping pills. I don’t use it very often because it makes me feel dopey until I fall asleep, makes me burp, and I wake up with a strange taste in my mouth. I still use it if I need to sleep, but it’s not perfect.

The melatonin pills didn’t work for me. I’m not consistently ready to sleep at a certain time so it may work for others as the whole point seems to be establishing a rhythm.

As far as healing I’m a skinny guy who likes to play sports and I get worn down. I’ve had trouble and injuries with my legs and tried a common mix of Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM that seemed to really help with my knees and ankles. I’ve read studies that go both ways on these, but the difference was pretty dramatic for me in terms of pain.

When I had a physical job, I used a creatine supplement and it helped me feel less beat down after a long week.

I guess I also use a drink mix and meal replacement bars as a way to eat decent when good food isn’t always available or you don’t have time to cook something healthy up. I’d recommend them to anyone. I’m not sure if they fall under this definition of supplements or not, I just consider them food.

Ajulutsikael's avatar

@funkdaddy It becomes snake oil for obvious reasons. Why would the FDA condone someone buying these cheaper supplements that have a lesser chance of drug interaction then buying a bunch of “proven” medicinal cures?

The FDA is in the process of trying to label Aloe as a controlled substance like marijuana. So soon aloe will be an illegal drug.

meiosis's avatar

I took selenium (and aspirin), on the advice of my urologist, to improve my sperm motility, which was very poor. After two months the motility had improved considerably, and my partner was pregnant within three months (after five years of trying). That’s what I call a result.

tom_g's avatar

I don’t take any supplements, but I think they have much in common with many prescription drugs: the placebo effect. I used to belittle people who spent hundreds of dollars on a certain supplement. My attempts to use the results of blind scientific studies to show that there is no benefit to taking these things fell on deaf ears. “But I know they make me feel better.”. The way I look at it now, as long as they feel better, I don’t care.

It’s clear that some “legitimate” prescription drugs may not be any better than placebo (SSRI antidepressants, for example). There are some real non-placebo side-effects to some of these, that actually require more medications.

Anyway, in my opinion, as long as the supplement is regulated and determined to be safe (some actually have been found to contain some harmful levels of toxins, such as lead and arsenic), I have no problem with people believing that it has improved their life.

marinelife's avatar

I take a number of supplements. I base the selection of which ones to take on those that have PubMed controlled scientific studies showing effectiveness.

Why do you naturally assume that supplements don’t work?

Supplements are just like other drugs in terms of action except they are derived from natural plant and food sources. They have actions on the body just like drugs. They have possible negative interactions with each other and with other drugs. All of those effects have to be carefully researched just like you would research a drug your doctor prescribes (at least I hope you would).

For example, I don’t take anything with goldenseal in it, because goldenseal can raise blood pressure, and I have high blood pressure.

The only thing that I wish about supplements was that their manufacture was regulated so that they had to ensure regulations dosage of active ingredients and purity.

Mariah's avatar

I take a multivitamin (which I suspect isn’t working – but only because I’m having absorption problems) and an iron supplement (which has definitely helped me, as I have struggled with anemia a lot over the years, but my blood count is great now). I used to take fish oil, because I don’t eat much fish and omega 3s are supposed to be so beneficial. I didn’t really feel a benefit from it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t helping. I stopped only because I wanted to take fewer pills. I also took a probiotic for a long time to help keep my colonic bacterial balance healthy. I stopped because, well, I don’t have a colon anymore!

Blueroses's avatar

I take DHEA and 5-HTP for mood stabilization and I really notice the difference if I miss a few days.

Rarebear's avatar

@marinelife I agree but it’s important to tell people that just because something is in pubmed doesn’t mean that it’s true. There are a lot of bad studies out there, and it’s important to look at study methodology. For example, look at Glucosamine/chondroitin. Initial studies were promising (which you can find on pubmed), but follow up larger studies showed that it’s no better than placebo.

That said, I am always delighted when I find a supplement that actually appears to work. I see a lot of steatohepatitis in my practice, and there is recent good evidence to show that vitamin E at 800 mg/day can significantly decrease necroinflammatory activity, and there is some fun rat data that shows remarkable improvement in necroinflammatory activity with coffee, although there isn’t human data yet.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I take a chewy multi-vitamin each day at the behest of my fiancee. If it adds anything to my diet, great and if not then I’m not worried. I’m interested in finding a good quality fish oil too because I don’t eat many fats/oils.

@Rarebear: I’d be interested in finding something for joint inflammation and pain due to worn cartilage. Glucosamine tablets were a bust.

marinelife's avatar

@Rarebear Sorry, of course you have to be careful which studies you look at.

Rarebear's avatar

@Neizvestnaya the problem is that the initial studies are often methodologically horrible. More often than not, when rigorous studies are done therapies, such as glucosamine, initial promising therapies show no improvement over placebo. I will hasten to add that this is also true for regular medications as well. Initial studies often will show a positive result while follow up studies show no effect. I don’t know how interested you and @marinelife are in this subject, but this is my absolute favorite article on statistical medical models: Why Most Published Research Finds Are False

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

1. Calcium 2. Pro-biotic 3. Liquid multi-vitamin 4. Protein powder 5. L-Carnitine 6. Vitargo – the last 3 are just because I’m bodybuilding right now.

stardust's avatar

I take a multivitamin daily. I need to start taking a fish oil supplement.

gondwanalon's avatar

I take the basic supplements listed below daily because exerts in nutrition have recommended them to me to help maintain good health and physical fitness. I also take some questionable supplements (“EPOVAR”. “FORCE ACTOR”, “Creatine Phosphate” and “55 grams of whey protein”) because I think that they help to boost my athletic performance. At age 60 I’m half way through to my goal of completing 8 full marathons in 13 months and I need all the help that I can get even if it may be just a placebo effect.

Am I wasting my money? All I can say is that I think that these supplements offer far more good than harm.

Basic daily supplements: (Taken with three 12 ounce glasses of water)

Centrum Multivitamin ½ tablet:
•Vitamin A 17500 IU •Vitamin C 45 mg
•Vitamin D 200 IU •Vitamin E 15 IU
•Vitamin K 12.5 mg •Thiamin 0.75 mg
•Riboflavin 0.85 mg •Niacin 10 mg
•Vitamin B6 1 mg •Folic Acid 225 mcg
•Vitamin B12 3 mcg •Biotin 15 mcg
•Pantothenic Acid 5 mg •Calcium 100 mg
•Iron 9 mg •Phosphorous 54.5 mg
•Iodine 75 mcg •Magnesium 50 mg
•Zinc 5.5 mg •Selenium 27.5 mcg
•Copper 0.45 mg •Manganese 1.15 mg
•Chromium 17.5 mcg •Molybdeum 22.5 mcg
•Boron 75 mcg •Silicon 1 mg
•Tin 5 mcg •Vanadium 5 mcg
•Lycopene 150 mcg
Other Daily Supplements:
•Fish Oil 1.2g X2
•Beta Sitosterol 667 mg
•Vitamin E 400 IU
•Vitamin C 500mg X2
•Co Enzyme Q-10 100 mg
•Vitamin D 400 IU X2
•Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM Tablet X2

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