25 Reasons People Take Dietary Supplements Even if Proven Worthless

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
dietary supplements, herbal remedies, ineffective, energy, health , immunity
Advertisement

Many Americans take one or more dietary supplements on a daily basis. Researchers affiliated with the Harvard School of Public Health (Boston, Massachusetts) noted that despite their increased use, little is known regarding the underlying reasons as to why they take them. Therefore, the Harvard Research Program conducted a telephone survey to ascertain why people took them. They published their findings online on November 19 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

The telephone survey, which was conducted in English and Spanish, comprised 1,570 individuals who were contacted between August 11 and September 7, 2011; the respondents were a nationally representative sample that was weighted according to US Census data to reflect the demographic makeup of the adult population.

Dietary supplements were defined as substances other than vitamins or minerals and included pills, drops, syrups, and other liquids and capsules made from or containing one or more herbal products such as Echinacea, ginseng, probiotics, and many other such substances that people take to improve their health and well-being. In addition to excluding vitamins and minerals, the respondents were also instructed to exclude from their responses “foods that people eat” and pharmaceuticals (both prescription and over-the-counter).

Advertisement

Approximately 38% of the respondents said that they had taken a dietary supplement in the last two years, and one in seven reported taking supplements regularly. The most common reasons given for taking supplements were to feel better, improve overall energy level, and to improve the immune system. However, these goals had little to do with their benefits. Only 25% said that they would discontinue taking them if they were found to be ineffective. The researchers wrote: “Supplement users are unlikely to change behavior in response to statements from public health authorities about studies showing the ineffectiveness of particular supplements.”


Reasons given for taking supplements:

To feel better: 41%
To improve overall energy level: 40.85
To boost immune system: 35.9%
To treat digestive issues: 28.4%
To reduce the risk of heart disease: 27.8%
To relieve pain: 25.5%
To improve mental function: 25.0%
To help sleep: 24.4%
To get a quick energy boost or stay awake: 23.7%
To lower cholesterol: 20.6%
To help with weight control: 20.2%
To reduce risk or prevent cancer: 18.8%
To treat premenstrual syndrome or menstrual cramps 354 females): 17.8%
To lower blood pressure: 15.7%
To build muscle: 13.7%
To treat arthritis: 13.3%
To improve mood or reduce depression: 11.0%
To improve athletic performance: 11.2%
To slow the aging process: 11.0%
To improve appearance: 11.0%
To lower blood glucose or prevent type 2 diabetes: 8.7%
To treat acne or other skin disorders: 5.0%
To increase sexual drive or performance (or other sexual issues): 4.7%
To relieve the effects of attitude: 1.4%
To treat infertility: 0.2%

Reference: Archives of Internal Medicine

See also:
Honest Medicine book offers alternative treatments for serious illnesses
Fitness expert shows how to improve holidays with healthy vegan recipes
Aging expert offers tips for longevity and improved cognitive function
Low Vitamin D levels increase risk of type 1 diabetes
Did you remember to take your medication this morning?

Share this content.

If you liked this article and think it may help your friends, consider sharing or tweeting it to your followers.
Advertisement

Comments

Why do doctors prescribe dangerous, life threatening drugs, especially ones for non life threatening conditions? Why do doctors write articles about subjects they do not have backgrounds in? Why are supplements continually pummeled but prescription medications are given a free pass although they kill somewhere around 100,000 US citizens each year despite being properly prescribed?