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Dietary Supplements: The Joke’s on You?

“Man, this is too easy. So I’m on this amazing multivitamin program – my nutrients are covered! That means I can eat and play like crazy! (right?)”

Not to fast, oh deceived one! The only thing easy here is your potentially harmful logic and behavior.

Telling Research

The conclusions of a study led by Wen-Bin Chiou of Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-Sen University will be a wake-up call for many. Chiou and his colleagues revealed a contrary relationship between the use of dietary supplements and the health of those using them. The research findings will be featured in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science.

According to Chiou…

“After reviewing the literature of the prevalence of dietary supplement use, it seemed to show that use of dietary supplements is increasing, but it does not appear to be correlated with improved public health.”

“What a minute here. You mean all those pills we’ve been popping haven’t done a thing for us? Why I’m outraged!”

“What’s a Dietary Supplement?”

Okay, let’s slow things down and establish a working definition of dietary supplement (aka food supplement or nutritional supplement)….

A dietary supplement is a preparation intended to supplement the diet (well, that makes sense) and provide nutrients. They’re correctly used to compensate for missing nutrients in an individual’s diet – as well as the ingestion of insufficient quantities.

Some countries define dietary supplements as foods, while in others they’re defined as drugs or natural health products.

And now you’re asking, “What are the 10 most popular dietary supplement categories?” Here ya’ go…

  • Multivitamins
  • Meal Replacements
  • Sports Nutrition Supplements
  • Calcium
  • B Vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin
  • Homeopathic Medicines
  • Vitamins D
  • Fish/Animal Oils

Any surprises?

“How Was the Research Conducted?”

To reach their conclusion, the research team placed participants into two groups. The participants in Group A were instructed to take a multivitamin. The participants in the Control Group were asked to take a placebo.

But “Gotcha’!” Placebo pills were given to all of the participants.

“What Were the Results?”

When it came time for follow-up surveys, participants in Group A (perceived multivitamin use) expressed less desire to engage in exercise. But their desire to engage in highly pleasurable activities was high. They also preferred a buffet table over an organic meal.

It became readily apparent that the Group A participants developed a sense of being invulnerable to health issues. And that inaccurate assessment led to health-risky thinking and behavior.

The Take Away

According to team leader Chiou…

“People who rely on dietary supplement use for health protection may pay a hidden price, the curse of licensed self-indulgence. After taking dietary supplements in the morning, individuals should diligently monitor whether illusory invulnerability is activated by restored health credentials and subsequently licenses health-risk behaviors.”

According to chipur leader Bill…

Use good common sense. If you’re going to use dietary supplements, do it for the right reason(s). They aren’t the ultimate answer, and they don’t compensate for poor choices. Even if you begin with honorable intentions, keep your eyes open – no one’s invulnerable.

Final Thoughts

Interesting – Chiou came upon his research idea after seeing a colleague chose an unhealthy meal over an organic one. The colleague’s rationale was she/he had taken a multivitamin earlier in the day.

Your primary motivation in using dietary supplements needs to be based in true need – not license to eat and behave in a health-risky manner. Again, that may not be your intention going-in, but we’re all human – things change.

Food for thought…