Beneficial Dietary Supplements: Fact or Fiction?

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July 31, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter

Most people think that including vitamins and dietary supplements into their diet is crucial to their health. The truth is many people don’t need supplements and as for vitamins, they are better off helping you in their natural form. It is best to try to get enough of important vitamins and minerals in foods they naturally occur in.

When should you add supplements to your diet?

It is only in situations when your diet restricts certain vitamins and minerals or if you have a specific health concern to turn to such supplements. Such conditions could be ones such as being older than 50, vegetarian/vegan, pregnant, or medical conditions that limit your food choices. If one of those applies to you, you may want to speak to a registered dietitian to help determine what is right for your needs.

Tip: if you know there is a mineral or vitamin you need more of try to eat the foods that are naturally rich in that nutrient before increasing your dosage of a supplement

How to add those Nutrient-Rich foods into your diet

Following these simple steps will help you include more nutrient-dense foods into your diet.

  1. Start with a healthy breakfast that includes whole grains, calcium and vitamin C rich foods such as orange juice and/or fruit.
  2. Eat more whole grains and less refined. Opt for whole-grain cereal, bread and brown rice.
  3. Remember to eat enough fruits & vegetables – this is the most effective way to
    get most of the nutrients you need. Fresh, frozen or canned are the best choices.

    Tip: Try to decorate your plate with a variety of colors. Pigments of fruits and vegetables carry their own nutrients and making sure you don’t miss a color is an easy way to assure you are not missing any important nutrients.

  4. And lastly, incorporate some beans (rich in fiber and folate). There are many choices out there so don’t be discouraged if you don’t like one.

    If you’re interested in a certain nutrient or are curious to what nutrients you are consuming with certain foods the internet is a great source. Just make sure you are using reputable sources such as,, or other established websites.

Athletes: the myths of sport supplements

As for athletes, there are thousands of dietary supplements that claim to make you what you want to be whether it’s stronger, thinner, or faster. Don’t give in to those advertisements so easily. Just because it has an intriguing fancy, professional label don’t be fooled. Some key things to look for right from the start is that if they claim it’s right for everyone, its been used for years and years, and says little to nothing about the science behind it… stay away. To truly know what may actually help your body instead of harming it is to research. If you’re that serious about getting your ideal body and being healthy don’t rush into things that may not work and harm you. Put some time and effort into something you find so important to get the results you actually desire.

Here is a table of popular supplements to help distinguish phony from beneficial:

Beta-Alanine: acts as a buffer in the muscle – Improve high-intensity exercise performance – Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA): leucine, isoleucine and valine – Delay fatigue- Boost the immune system – BCAA can provide fuel for endurance activity, but has not been shown to delay fatigue as a result- Growing research suggests it may play a role in supporting immune function
Caffeine: mild central nervous system stimulant – Helps you burn fat and protect carbohydrate stores- Makes you feel energized – Caffeine increases alertness and acts as a central nervous system stimulant- Although caffeine promotes fatty acids release, fat burning does not appear to increase during exercise and carbohydrate stores are not protected.- Caffenie is considered a banned substance by the National Collegiate Athletic Association if too high an amount is found in urine.- Helps with mental sharpness; decreases perceived exertion
Carnitine: found in muscles and used for energy production – Helps you burn fat – Does not increase fat burning when taken as a supplement
Chromium Picolinate: a mineral found in foods that plays a role in glucose utilization – Weight loss aid- Body composition changes – Insufficient support for use in weight loss and body composition changes- May cause oxidative damage, therefore not recommended
Creatine: found in muscles and used for energy production – Increase lean body mass- Increase strength- Improve exercise performance, especially for high-intensity workouts – Positive results have been found for increasing total body mass and lean mass- Some athletes have found to be non-responders- Improves short-term intense exercise performance- Aids with recovery

– Increases strength gains with exercise

– Appears to be safe but not effective in some individuals

Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT): fatty acids – Increase endurance- Promote fat burning in long duration exercise – Does not enhance endurance performance- May increase blood lipid levels, therefore not recommended
Pyruvate: end product of carbohydrate metabolism – Increase endurance and decrease body fat- Promote weight loss – Does not enhance endurance performance- Insufficient evidence for weight or fat loss- Side effects may include adverse gastrointestinal effects, such as gas and nausea



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