What you need to know before taking supplements

author:  Kelly Gill, MS, RD, CSSD, LD


Whether you are seeking good health or you are an athlete in need of a competitive edge, you probably have wondered about taking supplements.  It seems like “everyone” is taking them these days.  However, there are issues with the supplement industry that you may not realize.  This infographic was created to better inform you as consumers and help you make the most informed choice for supplementation.

They aren’t always what they seem…




  1. The supplement industry is a BIG business with $31-$32 billion annual revenue and growing!
  2. Supplements are NOT natural.  Nutrients from food will always be superior to any nutrient from a supplement.  There really is no supplementation for a poor diet.
  3. Supplementation for young athletes is not advised – they will make much greater gains from physical growth and experience in their sport than they would ever get from a supplement.
  4. Supplements are not regulated before they are put on shelves.  Therefore, it is nearly impossible to know if you are getting a quality product.
  5. Concerns with taking supplements include:
    • Possibility of toxic or banned ingredients
    • Cheap and ineffective filler ingredients
    • Poorly trained staff at supplement stores
    • Limited evidence behind their effectiveness
  6. There are multiple examples of published studies that expose non-compliance to regulation guidelines, including:
    • Steroids found in protein supplements
    • Recalled supplements left on shelves
    • Tainted with toxic ingredients (metals)
    • Ingredients listed not matching ingredients found
  7. Avoid supplements that:
    • Claim to treat or prevent a disease
    • Make outrageous claims, like quick fixes, secret formulas, what the experts don’t want you to know, scientific breakthroughs, and make promises related to weight loss, muscle building, energy, and sexual enhancement.
    • Use terms like “all natural”
    • Don’t use third party testing
    • Have tons of unrecognizable ingredients or use proprietary blends
    • Picture a person in a lab coat or spout off claims about “clinical studies”
  8. Do your research before blind buying supplements.  Use the websites listed in the infographic above to help you get started and look for third party tested supplements.

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