Whether you’re a novice fitness enthusiast or a seasoned veteran of the gym life, chances are you’ve been bombarded with ads for pointless supplements at some point. Supplements are a booming business, and when money is flowing in, standards can become lax while claims grow more and more incredible. In certain cases, when manufacturers push certain products aggressively enough, claiming that they have miraculous health benefits, the FDA steps in to provide some much needed pushback, holding the marketers to account.
In most cases, it can be hard to know what is and isn’t worthwhile, especially when it comes to supplements; but don’t worry – we’ve done the research for you. Here are six less-than-useful supplements that you can throw out and never miss:
1. Glucosamine/Chondroitin: This combination of two compounds is often found in joint health supplements, yet it hasn’t been proven to help with joint pain. Studies show that glucosamine/chondroitin might help slow the progression of osteoarthritis, but there’s no evidence that this combo actually relieves pain, at least not in the knees – as per a Harvard Medical School study with 1500 participants.
2. Herbal remedies: Some herbal remedies may contain dangerous ingredients or contaminants, especially if their provenance is unclear. These remedies can also interact negatively with prescription medications, so it’s best to consult with a doctor before taking anything new – even if the herb in the name of the remedy sounds familiar or harmless.
3. Protein powders: Many people turn to protein powders as a way to get their daily dose of protein without having to eat bulky meals throughout the day. Some who need to grow and maintain mass because it’s their job – hypertrophy seekers like bodybuilders or powerlifters – do seek out protein powders to help get the job done. For most of us, however, they aren’t truly necessary. Unless you’re training for a competition, eating lean, whole-food proteins – your fish, chicken, beans, and eggs – is going to be your best bet for getting enough of those building blocks of life into your system.
4. Probiotics: Although probiotics are good for gut health and digestion, most people don’t need them in pill form, as our bodies naturally produce beneficial bacteria on their own. If you want to prioritize gut health, you can drink kombucha or emphasize whole-food sources of probiotics such as sauerkraut, kim chi, and yogurt, to name the lowest-hanging fruit. If you do decide to take a probiotic supplement, make sure it’s from a reputable source and contains live bacteria strains that have been scientifically studied for safety and effectiveness.
5. Garcinia Cambogia: This plant-based supplement gained popularity as a weight-loss aid after being featured on the Dr. Oz show. Early studies showed that garcinia cambogia had powerful suppressive effects on calorie intake, but more recent reviews have not offered consistent results. At the moment, there is no scientific evidence proving its effectiveness for weight loss or appetite suppression, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.
6. Multivitamins: Unless you’re deficient in certain vitamins or minerals due to illness or disease, multivitamins won’t do much beyond providing additional calories in pill form, which can add up quickly if taken daily. Many multivitamins contain questionable ingredients like artificial sweeteners or food dyes — both linked to various adverse health effects — so make sure to read that label with care before taking any expensive and ultimately unnecessary, or even harmful, pills off of store shelves and putting them into your body.
There you have it: half a dozen pointless supplements you can throw out and never miss. Naturally, these are just general recommendations. Always talk to your doctor before starting (or stopping) any type of supplement regimen. Finally, don’t forget that everyone’s needs differ depending on age and lifestyle factors, such as activity level and dietary habits.
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