Should I take supplements?

I am often asked about one supplement or another when it comes to nutrition.  I believe it is a very personal decision, but I caution clients that they usually come with side effects and often the label on the bottle is not what is reported on the label (more is added that is unknown, or less of the active ingredient is included, etc.).  Let’s clarify, a supplement is any substance (micronutrient, vitamin, mineral, etc.)  that is not medicine.

Here are a few things to keep in mind in making a decision:

  • our bodies are unique and react differently to medications/supplements.  Often the case is that what works for one person, may not work for another.
  • The supplement industry is a billion dollar industry.  Make sure to do thorough research and if any red flags pop up, keep your money in your wallet.
  • There are huge differences between medications and supplements.  They are not researched, tested and or used in the same ways.  Check out this article from the USAC below about the differences (Ask The Scientists, Dietary Supplements: August 10, 2017):


“Given that they are both used for health purposes, it would be easy to assume that medications and supplements are regulated the same way and produced to the same standards, but unfortunately this is not the case. Unlike medications, supplements are regulated post-market, which means that no regulatory body evaluates the contents or safety of supplements before they are sold to consumers. Take a look below to learn more about the many differences between medications and supplements, and how those differences make supplement use risky for athletes.


blue pill

FDA Review

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a comprehensive evaluation process for medications, assessing everything including the packaging, the design of clinical trials, and the manufacturing conditions.



Reliable Ingredient Labels

Medications must list every ingredient on the Drug Facts label, and these ingredients are confirmed through quality control analysis by the FDA.



Proven Safe Before Sale

To help protect consumers, medications are subject to strict premarket regulation, which means they go through a rigorous safety and efficacy evaluation process before reaching consumers.



Eliminate Your Risk: Global DRO

Global Drug Reference Online (Global DRO) allows you to search the prohibited status of specific medication brands and ingredients. Get started at:


No FDA Review

Supplements don’t undergo any evaluation process or testing by the FDA before they are made available to consumers. In fact, most supplement companies are never inspected by the FDA to ensure manufacturing best practices.



Unreliable Ingredient Labels

Manufacturers may misidentify prohibited substances on Supplement Facts labels, or they may fail to list prohibited substances altogether.



Proven Unsafe Before Sale

Because they are regulated post-market, supplements are sold to consumers until it becomes evident that they are harmful following consumer adverse event reporting. Even then, supplements with illegal or dangerous ingredients may remain on shelves for years.



Minimize Your Risk: Supplement 411

Supplement 411 offers various tools to help athletes realize, recognize, and reduce supplement risk, including a High Risk List of examples of products containing prohibited substances:

Super Side Dish – Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

recipe by


2 cups shredded zucchini

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

dash of salt and pepper

1 tsp coconut oil, or flavored oils


Add olive oil to deep skillet and heat on medium to high heat.  Meanwhile drain shredded zucchini in a strainer (think pressing into a spaghetti strainer here) and then wipe dry on paper towels.  The more moisture you can remove, the better your fritters will bind together and cook.  Next add shredded zucchini and remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Toss to blend.

To cook, place in 2 tsp portions in pan and brown lightly on both sides.  Using a spatula, turn occasionally to cook thoroughly.  Serve warm.

My take on AHA’s recommended “healthy” fats…

Recently the American Heart Association released it’s updated recommendations for keeping your heart healthy.  Part of the new release reviewed eating habits and more specifically recommended oils to use in a daily diet to prevent cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.  I had to chime in when I reviewed their findings.  As a nutrition guru, several red flags popped up:

  1. Heart disease is a complicated illness.  Inflammation in the body causes increases in cholesterol and other complications leading to the disease.  Genetics play a role as well.  Diet can help reduce inflammation, but it is not the overall solution or culprit.  Read more about it here.
  2. Saturated Fats are not all equal.  The new recommendations vilify Coconut Oil but fail to tout the benefits of this saturated fat in comparison with other saturated fats.  Let’s dive deeper.  Coconut oil is a medium-chain fatty acid.  It is also a saturated fat.  What does that mean, in a nut shell, your body processes it differently.  Coconut oil has proven to raise both HDL and LDL levels in the body.  Thus keeping the ratio of good to poor cholesterol the same.  Lab studies also prove it is less likely to be stored as fatty acids in the body, thus aiding in weight reduction.  Coconut oil contains high amounts of lauric acid, boosting antibacterial properties to aid your immune system.  It helps regulate blood sugar levels and helps your body build strong teeth and bones.
  3. The list of approved oils the AHA are questionable.  They recommend Canola oil, vegetable oil, olive oil and others.  I agree with the Olive Oil, it is a wonderful oil to use in dressings and low heat cooking.  The others use sparingly because they are cheap and used widely in commercially processed foods, restaurant foods, and are most likely from sources of GMO foods.  In other words, we get too much of them already in our diets, so be aware.  It does make you wonder what big industries have an financial influence on the American Heart Association.

When it comes down to it, our bodies are all different.  We have to be our own advocates for our individual health because of these differences.  Do some research into the saturated fats, look deeper than Google and decide for yourself.  I am here to help at