Do Pre-Workout Supplements Actually Help?

Pre-workout supplements make big promises to boost your performance, and with those promises come high price tags. You supposedly get a burst of energy, fatigue less easily, and increase blood flow, all to help you get more out of your workout. The thing is, these supplements are really just powerful stimulants.

Source: Do Pre-Workout Supplements Actually Help?

I know some who buy the raw ingredients cheap, and mix them themselves. They work out after work, so they don’t have to worry about caffeine messing with their sleep.

How Melatonin Helps You Sleep

If you’re having trouble sleeping, melatonin is a popular and easy remedy. It’s effective for many people, doesn’t have any serious safety issues, and is available as pills or gummies for pennies a dose. It’s also misunderstood, though: melatonin is not a traditional sleeping pill.

Source: How Melatonin Helps You Sleep

If you’re able to get to sleep, but have trouble staying there?  Melatonin is unlikely to help.

Also worth mentioning that, thanks to the regulatory structure around ‘supplements’ – much of the melatonin you buy contains either no melatonin or way, way too much. In fact, even the smallest Over The Counter (OTC) doses are wildly higher than the doses used in clinical tests, so it might actually be kind of good that the odds are good there are no active ingredients in OTC melatonin.

How to Figure Out If Your Supplements Are Safe

Supplements aren’t regulated like drugs. Their makers don’t have to prove that they’re safe or effective. Let’s talk about some of the pitfalls of using supplements, and how you can improve your chances of getting a pill that does what it’s supposed to.

Source: How to Figure Out If Your Supplements Are Safe

I recently witness a cashier at the local supermarket question a guy in his 20s about buying garlic supplements.  An actual garlic bulb costs less than a dollar – the supplement container was probably $5+, and it’s highly questionable that the supplement contained anything of value.  Seriously…

Vitamins and Herbal Supplements Are Sending 23,000 Americans to the Hospital a Year

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine took a look at a decade’s worth of U.S. hospital admission data and found that over 23,0000 visits a year are actually due to substances people are taking to, theoretically, improve their health: vitamins and herbal supplements.

Source: Vitamins and Herbal Supplements Are Sending 23,000 Americans to the Hospital a Year

That said, 23,000 visits a year in a country of 300,000,000 is practically nothing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s preventable, but statistically it isn’t a scary number.

Some Supplements Are Basically Drugs

Natural, herbal over-the-counter supplements seem like they should be safe—but they can contain as much active ingredient as some prescription drugs.

Source: Some Supplements Are Basically Drugs

The article actually only specifically about Yohimbe, but I’ve got lots of posts that highlight how supplements should generally be avoided for actual sources:

Genes Link Low Vitamin D with Multiple Sclerosis Risk

Researchers have found a possible genetic link between low vitamin D levels and multiple sclerosis; something that has long been suspected, but difficult to prove.

Source: Genes link low vitamin D with multiple sclerosis risk

The findings are interesting, given that lots of things are fortified with vitamin D (IE milk, cheese) because you need vitamin D to process calcium.  And there’s the fact that we can make our own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.  You probably don’t need a vitamin D test

Keep in mind that the supplement suggested to be used in future studies is going to be clinical, not off the shelf.  If you are interested in better vitamin D intake, I’d advise sources other than supplements as there’s a lot of fraud in supplements.  Unless you’re lactose intolerant, milk is cheap and easily accessible.

Stop Taking Fish Oil Pills

The market for fish oil supplements is worth $1.2 billion annually, and you know what? It’s full of shit.

I mean that literally and figuratively. The side effects of taking dietary fish oil include anything from nosebleeds to diarrhea. But you’ve been told for years that the precious omega-3 fatty acids in these supplements can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Many labels will also tell you that taking fish pills boost your brain function and prevent cognitive decline. The only problem is that an increasing number of clinical studies say that these claims just aren’t true.

Source: Stop Taking Fish Oil Pills

I’d originally preferred natural sources to supplements.  In the last year, research have reinforced this is a wise idea.  Some supplements are known to cause [prostate] cancer, but muscle building supplements have not been linked conclusively to cancer.  Some supplements contain an amphetamine-like substance, while others have asparagus and lies.  Business – the reality of making a profit – is largely to blame.  It’s not like natural sources aren’t at risk either – farmed salmon are dyed pink.

No, Muscle-Building Supplements Haven’t Been Proven to Cause Cancer

It seems like every day, there’s a study that comes out each day linking something new to cancer. One such study by researchers at Brown University recently linked muscle building supplements (or MBS) to cancer. Will your daily creatine habit really lead to an untimely demise?

Source: No, Muscle-Building Supplements Haven’t Been Proven to Cause Cancer

Selenium, Vitamin E Supplements Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

When the SELECT trial started in 2001, there were high hopes it would prove that taking vitamin E or selenium could help prevent prostate cancer. The newest results from the trial show just the opposite—that taking selenium or vitamin E can actually increase the odds of developing prostate cancer.

Bottom line: men shouldn’t take selenium or vitamin E as a way to prevent prostate cancer, or anything else for that matter.

Although SELECT was supposed to last until 2011, it was stopped three years early because neither vitamin E nor selenium were showing any benefit—and there were hazy warning signs they might be doing some harm.

Source: Selenium, vitamin E supplements increase prostate cancer risk

There’s no mention of the quality of the supplements – some are just asparagus and lies, and/or could contain a ‘Amphetamine-like’ compound.  But the fact the study was stopped early is damning.

There’s nothing about if natural sources were better.

Study Finds Cancer Link for Muscle-building Supplements

A new study associates taking muscle-building supplements with an increased risk of testicular cancer. Men who used such pills and powders were more likely to have developed testicular cancer than those who did not, especially if they started before age 25, took more than one supplement, or used the supplements for three or more years.

Source: Study finds cancer link for muscle-building supplements

The study was looking at the use of creatine, androstenedione, and a host of other supplements. The study shows that supplements that include both protein and creatine in them had a significantly increased risk of testicular cancer for the user.

It’s well proven that exercise, such as strength training, raises testosterone – we shouldn’t be surprised that there is a downside. The benefits to longevity and health almost certainly outweigh the risk. But it is also possible that those who report that they use creatine and other supplements are more likely to use illegal steroids even though they do not report it…

This is an epidemiological study – not an experimental one – and the results are not experimental and cannot be compared to those of a single experimental study. They contrast the rates of cancer amongst individuals who self-reported usage to those who report no usage (control). Assuming the epidemiologists used appropriate sampling numbers and a truly random sampling design, the results are as accurate as the statistics.

There is actually no correlation involved in this analysis since they are using odds ratios. What that means is the results are based on probabilities, not numerical relationships. Again, this is based on a lot of assumptions about the distribution of testicular cancer in a population and that the methods of data collection met the statistical assumptions for the odd-ratio analysis.