Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | September 14, 2009

10 Big Nutrition Mistakes #10: Relying Too Much on Dietary Supplements

The dietary supplement industry is a multibillion dollar enterprise.  People are willing to pay large sums of money for products that claim to improve health, fitness and athletic performance.  The problem is that many of the claims made about various supplements are exaggerations at best and outright lies at worst.  While I am not suggesting all dietary supplements should be avoided (indeed there are some that are quite beneficial such as the vitamins and minerals found in a variety of multivitamins), there are at least three reasons why you should approach supplementation with care.

First, you should eat real food to meet your nutritional needs.  Yes, you do need a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other goodies in your daily diet, especially as an athlete.  However, you can get everything you need through a well-balanced diet.  Of course, few of us are perfect when it comes to our eating habits so daily supplementation in the form of a multivitamin is fine, but you shouldn’t be ingesting lots of pills and drinks as food replacements!

Second, many supplements simply don’t work.   Because there is so much money to be made through the sale of supplements, many distributors will make unsupported claims regarding the efficacy of a particular product.  They can get away with this because the supplement industry is largely unregulated.  But don’t believe the hype. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Finally, some supplements can be downright harmful either to your health or to your status as a competitive athlete.  For example, a study commissioned by the International Olympic Committee in 2001 analyzed 634 nutritional supplements purchased from 215 different suppliers in 13 countries and found that nearly 15% tested positive for at least one banned anabolic agent (many of these positive tests were in the U.S.).  It is clear that what is written on a supplement bottle does not always reflect what is found in the supplement.  More than a few athletes have been suspended for doping because of tainted supplements.  And remember, by law, while supplement manufacturers are required to ensure their products are safe prior to marketing them, they DO NOT have to be proven safe or effective prior to release to the public.  In other words, manufacturers don’t have to demonstrate they work, and they don’t have to “prove” they are safe.  What’s worse is that even if a company has information about injuries or illnesses that may be related to their product, they aren’t required to report it.  Therefore, when it comes to dietary supplements, be very careful!

NEXT POST – September 21, 2009

The End of the Cycling Season: How to Recover



  1. Excellent article, and I totally agree. I think that if people eat a wide enough diet then they will get all the nutrients that he needs to, especially if they add a Omega 3 EFA

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