I can’t say I’m terribly surprised. Like all natural things, it has its pros and cons. And it is bacteria, after all. But mostly I’m not surprised because it seems like whenever people take a nutrient out of its natural element and package it in a pill, it does things that people don’t expect. Sometimes bad things, like in the case of Ma Huang
(ephedra). Oftentimes, the much-hyped & expensive supplements do nothing, as in the case of Hoodia
. Occasionally it will make you fly, as in the case of fairy dust
(the Peter Pan variety, not the kind you smoke. Although now that I think about it, it could totally be both. Except the FDA does not classify the latter as a “supplement” but feel free to argue all you want when the men in SWAT jackets show up. I hear they like a good well-reasoned argument.)
Claims of supplement harm or ineffectiveness will be hotly contested by the manufacturers of those supplements and with the absence of FDA oversight and a dearth of well-conducted research, the debate rages. Ever-hopeful consumers, desperate for an edge, only add more fuel to the fire. Everyone wants a miracle pill. Some people are just fine with a placebo. But either way, the supplement industry made more than $13 billion gross in 2006 and is still growing. No word yet on the fairy dust industry.
If you can name it, there’s a pill for it
As active fitness people, I know you’ve all heard hype in the gym or read the glowing testimonials in the full-page ads that stuff all the fitness mags. “L-carnitine is how bodybuilders get that ripped!” “Creatine builds, like, twice as much muscle!” “I read a study that Zantrex-3 burns 546%
more fat!” “My neighbor, who is an olympic shotputter told me the secret is drinking first-morning pregnant camel urine!” (If you drink urine, I’m totally not judging you. Laughing? Well, yeah. But what goes on between you & your pregnant camel is totally none of my business.)
And I must admit that some of the ads speak to me. But being poor & generally skeptical, I haven’t tried very many. However, when it comes to vitamin research I tend to perk up. I may not believe any of the muscle building or weightloss pill hype (hyperbole?) but when a research luminary
comes out with micronutrient research, I’m all over it. It’s a weakness, I know.
What’s In My Cabinet
So far they’ve talked me into taking as part of my daily regimine: a multi-vitamin specifically formulated for the “active pre-menopausal woman with curly hair and no appendix or tonsils”, an Omega-3 (why can’t I type that without capitalizing?) flaxseed oil supplement, a 500 mg calcium supplement with vitamin D (the “new” vitamin everyone’s getting all breathless about), and a 500 mg vitamin C chew that mostly I eat because it tastes really really good. Considering I have to take two each of the multi and the Omega-3, that makes 6 pills I swallow or chew a day. I’m a GNC gold card member:)
Is this excessive? I don’t know. My 86-year-old grandma who smokes like a chimney and still has yet to get cancer takes buckets of supplements a day. On the other hand, my college roommate, who is not an octogenarian but also has never had cancer, refuses to even take a multi because it’s “too much effort.”
I need to know: what supplements do you guys take? I remember one of you wonderful commenters said you were experimenting with CLA – how is it working? Do you guys love your pills or do you have the vague suspicion, like me, that you’ve just been suckered by another marketing machine? Does any of it live up to the hype? Let me know! Or at least send me some fairy dust 🙂