Let me start by stating the position that while there are clearly some supplements that have a positive benefit, I am on the whole a skeptic about supplements. There are a number of reasons behind this stand.
First, one must keep in mind the history of supplements, which includes the whole “snake oil” legacy. Snake oil refers to a range of products, mostly liquid “elixirs,” that were sold touting their ability to cure anything that ailed you. If you look back at them, the bell curve is a bit skewed. Yes, there were a few of them that may well have done some good, but, there were a lot of them that could, would, and did do harm. The middle section of no harm/no fowl appears to be a bit on the small side.
The modern supplement phenomenon derives, IMO, from two different areas. The first is the “natural” movement which pushes natural remedies as an alternative to modern medicine. The second is modern medicine, which has acknowledged that any number of botanicals do indeed contain useful compounds and began to actively explore to find more. Both have their points, and it is somewhat funny to have watched these two different systems be almost forced to work together.
On the natural side, there has always been a bit of a tendency to push the “cure what ails you” side of things. This herb, or this supplement, would do the job. The problem is, not every supplement works on every individual. Your genetics and your gut biome play a part in if it works for you. What few studies have been done appear to suggest that some supplements may only work on less than a third of the population. In fact, some appear to work on less than ten percent.
Like many people, I take a multi-vitamin. In all probability, about 99 percent of it passes right through me.
Another reason for me to be a skeptic is that since the supplement industry is unregulated (for which I’m actually glad and support it staying unregulated), you do sometimes get some scams. I remember a couple of decades ago reading and hearing about a supplement that bragged of having a thousand times the daily recommended amount of calcium. True claim, it did. However, the calcium was in a form that could not be processed and used by the body. When it comes to supplements, including the new hot thing, caveat emptor.
You also have to be careful about amounts and interactions. Supplements can interact with each other, and they can and do interact with your prescription medication. There are a number of vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that you can get too much of — with potentially deadly results. Natural does not automatically equate to safe.
For this reason, I’m keeping my doctor up to date on what I’m taking and the amounts of critical compounds in each. I’m also asking for some additional blood work to be done to be sure I’m not doing something like spiking my calcium or other levels, or otherwise causing a problem as I attempt to “cure” the target issue.
Since my health is ultimately up to me, I’ve not only been researching the supplements I’ve chosen but even the brands and the forms of the supplements. I’ve also been choosing on the basis of trying to be sure they will work together, not against each other.
Will any one supplement work to make a positive difference? Will the particular regime I’m planning work to make a positive difference? Am I just generating very expensive urine and pissing away money? Ask me in about three to six months. That’s how long it’s going to take to have a realistic idea based of blood work, X-rays, etc.
Meantime, I plan to share a bit more on what I’m trying and why I have chosen those particular supplements. If anyone out there has a suggestion, feel free to chime in.