All the Nutritional Supplement Science You Need, for a Healthy Diet & Body

Supplements… Health food store shelves are packed full of them. They’re at your local supermarket. They’re being aggressively promoted, both online and off-, with colorful ads making bold claims and testimonials on their life-changing qualities. The VMS (Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements) industry in America was a $32 billion affair in 2012 alone. The Nutritional Business Journal expected that number to nearly double by 2021, thanks to a projected growth of up to more than $60 billion.

Indeed, health supplements, energy supplements, heart, brain, vitamin, and skin supplements have gone mainstream over the past decade or so. The industry, however, remains massively unregulated, even in spite of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. The FDA, USDA, and several other government regulators still struggle to keep up with the massive consumer demand that’s driving this segment forward. This is why we’ve put together a list of everything you need to know: are those popular supplements actually any good? How should you supplement your diet for a healthy heart, brain, or liver? What supplements can actually improve your skin? All that, and loads more, right below!

Concentrated Fiber Capsules OR Fresh Salad

Image source: ExpertBeacon.com

3 Honest Supplement Reviews You Need to Read before You Buy

CLA Supplement Review

If you often travel to that part of the internet where the fixation on achieving the perfect body reigns supreme, you may have considered several options to boost your muscular efficiency by now. Perhaps you’ve even tested some taurine or testosterone supplement—or maybe you’ve explored what little is known about CLA supplements. Though it’s been dubbed the best pre-workout supplement, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) hasn’t been sufficiently researched until now. Though initial studies do show some clear benefits, it still remains to be seen just how conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA, in brief) affects the human body.

Where to find it: On the one hand, conjugated linoleic acid, a powerful omega-6 fatty acid, can be found naturally in a wide variety of food types. These include lamb, butter, cottage cheese, fresh ground beef, sharp cheddar cheese, pork, chicken, and homogenized cow’s milk. On the other, given its incontestable benefits for bodybuilders, it should come as no surprise that many workout supplement producers have released their own CLA products. A 1,000mg-dosage tube with 90 soft gel capsules from Fitness Labs costs $8.99 online.

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Image source: FitClubMagazine.com

Pros

  • Ups your metabolic rate. This makes CLA supplementation ideal for anyone trying to lose fat and grow muscle.
  • Speeds up muscle development. Same as above—both pro and amateur bodybuilders stand to gain from using CLA.
  • Lower cholesterol, triglyceride, and insulin resistance levels. There are multiple health benefits thanks to all these lower levels of undesirable health stats. Perhaps most importantly, lower insulin resistance means a lower risk of developing adult-onset diabetes, as well as higher odds at success in keeping your weight under control.
  • Fewer food allergies. With such unwanted reactions comparatively under control, it becomes far easier to shed pounds of fat.
  • Better immunity. As evidenced by a 1988 University of Wisconsin study, CLA can help fight cancer (as it did, at the time, with rats fed a fried hamburger diet).

Cons

  • Few human studies. Although the effects of CLA on rats and other animal subjects have been significantly research, relevant human studies are still required.
  • Hard to supplement the intake from natural sources. In order to consume significant amounts of CLA (i.e. at least 3g), you’d need to eat at least 500g of trans fats per day. This translates into about 4,500 fat calories!
  • Long-term effects remain unknown. Given the absence of human studies, the long-term effects of CLA supplementation are yet unknown.
  • May cause gastrointestinal problems. An unpublished human study has shown that CLA supplements may cause stomach issues, albeit isolated.

The Verdict

Some research has suggested that CLA deficiencies may be at the root of the American obesity ‘epidemic’. This powerful anti-catabolite and anti-oxidant seems to prevent fat retention, while also fighting cancer. In terms of synthetic supplements, it’s probably a good idea to go for those with isomer content similar to natural CLA (c9, t11 CLA). The t10, c12 might be more powerful in fighting fat, but its health risks have not yet been sufficiently researched.

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Image source: Volusion.com

It Works Supplements Review

“Have you tried that crazy wrap thing?”, says a nearly ubiquitous banner ad online. Click it and you’ll be redirected to a landing page trying to sell you the It Works! Advanced Formula Fat Fighter. This is but one of the many weight loss supplements that the manufacturers are responsible for, even though they started out in the business by selling wraps. Ironically, we’re here to wonder if It Works! Actually… works. As is usually the case with such alleged fat trimming supplements, there are no studies of it available at the National Library of Medicine, nor can Google provide links to any such content. The following review is strictly based on the product’s list of ingredients, which we analyze below.

Where to find it: You can buy this product online, from the manufacturer’s own shop, for no more than $23 (they state the RRP is $39). The company also sells a wide range of other supplements, ‘lifestyle’ products, body wraps, and skin toning formulas.

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Image source: eCrater.com

Pros

  • It might reduce blood sugar levels. The product contains chromium, Gymnema sylvestre, and Vanadium, all of which may cut blood sugar levels down. However, it’s worth noting that not all these ingredients are present in sufficient amounts.
  • It might inhibit the absorption of carbs. Though doubtful, the following It Works! Ingredients might block carbs: Phaseolamin, Garcinia cambogia, Gymnema sylvestre, and wheat amylase inhibitor.
  • It might block fats. The product contains a trademarked ingredient, which is actually a type of cactus. NeOpunita has been shown to block fats by several studies.

Cons

  • Only contains two researched weight loss ingredients. These two are Phaseolamin and Garcinia cambogia—but based on the previously existent studies, they might not be present in a sufficient amount to actually work.
  • Some ingredients might interfere with diabetes medication. This applies to bitter melon, Gymnema sylvestre, and vanadium.
  • Bloating and constipation have been reported. According to some Amazon reviewers, these side effects are to be expected.
  • It might turn your tongue green! This is because of the presence of Vanadium—but bear in mind that the amount that causes this side effect has not been sufficiently researched yet.

The Verdict

As bold as the name might be, It Works probably doesn’t work. There are several reasons to believe this: there’s no relevant research on this product, the combination of ingredients doesn’t seem to produce any particular effect on cutting fat levels down, and the ingredients present are in lower doses than those which have shown positive, researched fat loss results. Finally, the product, though called “Fat Fighter” only has one fat-blocking ingredient.

Balance of Nature Supplements Review

Forget about supplementing your diet with all sorts of products, which are made artificially, yet still promise to take care of your joint health, immune system, or libido. That’s the claim made by The Balance of Nature, a company helmed by one Dr. Douglas Howard, who allegedly started out by trying to get his patients to eat more fruit and veg. Eventually, he came across an “advanced vacuum cold process”, which allowed his company to literally turn fruit, vegetables, fiber, and spices, into capsules. Does the product work? Here’s what we could find:

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Image source: AFoodieStaysFit.com

Where to find it: Balance of Nature Fruits and Veggies are uncharacteristically not available for sale on Amazon (as most other similar supplements). This might be explained through the fact that they don’t consider themselves to be supplement manufacturers—or through the fact that their products are questionable. In any case, you can buy them off the company website, either as a Preferred Customer ($109.95 for a complete package) or as Retail ($159.95 for a one-time order).

Pros

  • The ingredient list seems to be all-natural. The fruit blend contains aloe vera, apple, banana, blueberry, cherry, cranberry, and grape, among others; the veggie blend includes broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, cayenne pepper, and more. The Fiber & Spice blend is a mix of Psyllium Husk, Flax Seed, Whole Apple, and whole spices.
  • (Probably) no side effects. If the company’s claim is true, then the worst side effect would be a case of loose bowels for those with a sensitivity to fiber (the Fiber & Spice mix contains 10.1g of fiber).
  • Vegetarian, with no sugar added.
  • Safe for kids (according to company statements). However, decide at your own risk if you want to feed your kid an untested product.

Cons

  • Ingredient list seems questionable. So, how exactly does Balance of Nature pack their product with all that natural goodness? We can’t tell you, because they give no details on their process
  • Not stamped as USDA Organic. The producers claim this is because they go “above and beyond” USDA standards and only work with the best farmers. We can only hope that this is actually true.
  • Product makes dubious health claims. According to text in the website’s FAQ section, by chewing raw whole fruit and veg, some of the nutrients they contain are not properly absorbed (roughly 5%, they say). There’s no science to back this up, so take it with a raised eyebrow.

The Verdict

This is one product that clearly requires more research and scientific studies before we can actually recommend it as safe—much less effective. Given the secrecy that surrounds it at the moment, we would not recommend it to anyone, much less parents, their children, pregnant women, or people with known health issues. In other words, proceed at your own risk!

The 8 Health Supplements Most Americans Need

The U.S. needs better health—that’s a fact no one can refute. According to a 2013 study of 17 high-income countries, undertaken by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. ranked first for a long list of undesirable conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, STIs, lung disease, and many more. And even in spite of the recent Affordable Health Care Act passed by the Obama Administration, the positive effects of cheaper health coverage are yet to be seen. As an aside, many of the health issues described below are only deductible via health insurance supplements, as available from AARP, United, Humana, BCBS, CHAMPVA, USAA, AFLAC, Blue Health Insurance, Tricare Health Net or Aetna, Penn. And, as you probably already know, not only do health insurance supplements cost quite a lot, but they are also not Obama Care compliant. The healthcare services industry in the U.S. is going strong, as the Baby Boom generation keeps aging. Simply run a search for ‘health services jobs near me’ and you’ll get the point. Some of the best paying positions available for the current workforce are in personal, holistic, and individual patient care. Meanwhile, the dietary supplement industry is not missing this mark either, as it keeps getting richer and more powerful. As of this writing, Wikipedia reports there are over 50,000 supplements on the market, in stores all over the country, from Buffalo NY to Denver Colorado. At the same time, from Chicago to Dallas and beyond, over half of the U.S. population ages 18 and over (53-55%) consuming them. The NIH and the NAC (National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research) say some supplements may have ‘some value’ for people who can’t follow a balanced diet. But before you dive headfirst into this often confusing world of supplements, it might serve you to know which ones are actually any good.

Arthritis & Joint Health Supplements

WebMD consulted with Sharon Plank, an integrative medicine physician from the University of Pittsburgh. Plank recommended the following supplements, which can aid sufferers of arthritis:

  • Chondroitin sulfate – 600-900mg/day
  • Glucosamine sulfate – 1500mg/day
  • Calcium – 1000mg/day up to age 50; 1200mg/day over 50
  • Vitamin C – 500mg-1g/day
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin E
  • SAMe
  • MSM – 1-2g/day
  • Bromelain
  • Silicon – found in alfalfa, comfrey tablets, and horsetail
  • Gelatin – or type II collagen, which is found in regular, over-the-counter soluble gelatin packs at most supermarkets.

You can also choose to buy it large quantities from wholesalers or manufacturing companies, if you want to experiment with your own homemade remedies against arthritis and joint health issues.

young man touching his knee

Image source: DaVinciLabs.com

The physician cited above also advises in favor of some naturally occurring ingredients, which have also gained traction as components in supplement recipes, such as those produced by Swanson. These include ginger, turmeric, green tea, Omega-3, and Devil’s Claw.

Metabolic Health Supplements

Much like immunity, the human metabolism is still a mystery in many respects. We do know that it largely depends on the health of your thyroid and adrenal glands and we also know that, for some, hormonal treatments work. Be aware that a doctor should always prescribe such medication, since the wrong dosage can have catastrophic effects on your body. Meds in this category include Armour Thyroid, (slow or speedy release) T3, and T4. It’s just as important to get the right diagnosis: it may very well be the case that you have no adrenal issues, but do suffer from hypothyroidism or another thyroid problem. Likewise, it’s vital to understand the mutual relationship between these two glands. Sometimes, treating adrenal fatigue can result in a slower thyroid, which in turn leads to weight gain, depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and more.
That being said, since metabolic health issues are generally addressed with synthetic hormones, it’s hard to believe any natural substance could ever actually cure any such afflictions. However, certain homeopathic experts do recommend supplements for adrenal support. These include formula with the vitamin B complex, especially rich in vitamin B5, proline, hydrolyzed collagen, cordyceps, pregnenolone, vitamin C, and other natural substances.

Sexual Health Supplements

When it comes to sex health, most people are only concerned with pleasure. Exhibit A: a simple search for sex health supplements. Most results are about natural ways to boosting one’s libido. And while that’s important, there’s a lot more to sex than just intercourse. Current social security policies in the US have led to the defunding of some important sex-education programs (see the recent Planned Parenthood debacle). As such, it’s probably important to know that some natural substances can help improve penile and vaginal health, as well as aid with a healthier pregnancy.

Ginseng

The Siberian variety is comparatively under-researched and more often used as an aphrodisiac. Asian Ginseng, on the other hand, has been traditionally used in Asian medical practice for centuries: ancient treatises are chockfull of quotes attesting to this. According to some studies, it helps improve the production of nitric oxide, just like Viagra. But don’t expect similarly potent results.

Black Cohosh

Aside from helping to treat arthritis and muscle pains, it’s a good libido booster for women, because it encourages blood flow into the pelvic area, much like estrogen does. It has been known to work in addressing vaginal dryness, PMS, and several menopausal symptoms.

Chasteberry

This aptly titled plant, scientifically known as Vitex, doesn’t have that much to do with chastity as it does with progesterone-like effects. The pregnancy hormone, as it is otherwise referred to, can help boost sexual desire by inhibiting prolactin production, and has also been used to treat PMS.

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Chasteberry tree in bloom
Image source: FibroidNaturalTreatment.com

Ginko

Some swear by the positive effects of Ginko and would grow it on their farm in Fresno or Omaha, if they could. It’s true that, aside from its millennial history in traditional Chinese medicine, leaf extract from this plant has been shown to work against asthma, tinnitus, and even in delaying the effects of Alzheimer’s. However, its effects on sexual function need further research, as some studies have proven its efficiency, while others have disputed it.
Other supplements contain powerful substances like L-arginine, combined with yohimbe and maca. While the former two ingredients are all natural and come from plants, L-arginine needs further research. Some have treated ED with it, with some success, but its actual effect in aiding the production of nitric oxide remains yet unclear.

Intestinal Health Supplements

Intestinal and digestive health have everything to do with a delicate system of organs, processes, and interactions. In a sense, it could be said that the health of your gut starts with your gum, and makes its way through the stomach, down and out through the colon. We’re not going to further the raging colonial cleanse debate, which has seen many quacks try to push their sugar pill products on the market. As always, we’ve taken to science, to bring you a brief list of natural ingredients that can help facilitate regular bowel movements, enrich the enzyme production in your gut, and generally keep your tummy and intestinal tract healthy.

Probiotics

You’ve seen them listed on the labels of some of your favorite brands of yogurt. These friendly bacteria, which also include a yeast type, have been proven efficient in addressing gastrointestinal problems, including IBS and diarrhea.

Licorice

Proceed with care, as the side effects of licorice haven’t been sufficiently studied. For a safer alternative, which will help you cope with heartburn, try DGL (a pure form of licorice oil). Bear in mind, though, that even this form is not recommended for pregnant women.

Chamomile

This is definitely neither the first, nor the last time when we applaud the beneficial health effects of chamomile. It is a powerful antiseptic, which has worked to treat colic, nausea, and other types of upset stomachs. Just bear in mind that if you’re allergic to ragweed, you might also suffer an adverse reaction to chamomile.

Enlarged Prostate Health Supplements

This men’s health issue especially affects seniors and treating it is often insufficiently covered by Medicare. Furthermore, it’s often a taboo subject, when it comes to male health care, because it can also cause erectile dysfunctions and can only be addressed by much-feared visits to the urologist. For those who can’t afford costly private health insurance plans or want to avoid incurring such costs to begin with, there are plenty of supplements that can help.

Beta-Sitosterol

This plant sterol ester can be found in many fruit, veggies, nuts, and seeds, as well as in certain commercial foods, like Take Control margarine. To boot, the FDA allows producers of beta-sitosterol foods to list them as beneficial for reducing the risk of coronaries, because it lowers blood cholesterol levels. Studies have proven that 60 to 130mg of beta-sitosterol daily can help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

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Image source: Wikipedia.org

Pygeum

The bark of the tree by the same name contains some chemical substances, which allow the prostate to enhance urine flow, and alleviate nighttime urination. Studies have shown that  taking 75-200mg of pygeum per day can treat BPH.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin oils and seeds are used to make medicine and have been used to treat several afflictions, including bladder irritation, kidney infections, and BPH (in combination with certain herbs). For BPH, you should take 470mg of pumpkin seed oil extract suspension, in 3 doses, and also in combination with saw palmetto.

Rye Grass

Rye grass pollen extract, also known by the name of Cernilton, is used to make medicine, and is actually a registered trademark in several countries, including most of Western Europe, Korea, Argentina, and Japan. Though there haven’t been any conclusive studies regarding the effectiveness of rye grass pollen extract in reducing the size of an enlarged prostate, especially in comparison with prescription drugs, the substance has shown some signs it works. To treat BPH, take 126mg of any rye grass pollen extract 3 times per day.

African Wild Potato

According to the existing research, African wild potato contains certain substances that might help reduce inflammation. As such, it’s being used in treating cystitis and other infections of the bladder, BPH, and even prostate cancer. In fact, African wild potato extracts like Harzol and Azuprostat contain beta-sitosterol, which explains why they work to some extent. Take 2-3 daily doses of such extracts, to include 60 to 130mg of beta-sitosterol in your diet.

Liver Health Supplements

While aiming to have a clean, healthy liver is always a good idea, it’s important to understand that the liver health supplement market is also populated with loads of hoaxes. It’s not necessarily that their manufacturers are out to dupe you, but simply that there’s not enough human research available at the moment, to strongly claim that this supplement or that one actually work. Below, we’ve included the 3 most common ingredients in liver health supplements. Look out for them, the recommended dosage, and the most affordable products that contain them—but keep in mind there is no guarantee they will actually works.

SAMe

Its name stands for S-Adenosyl Methionine and it’s been in use as a dietary supplement since 1979 in the US. However, in many other countries, like Italy and Spain, for instance, it’s a prescription drug. It’s important to note that this is a chemical that the body naturally produces. It’s been studied and employed (with some degree of success) to treat several emotional disorders like depression and anxiety, but also osteoarthritis, and many others. Though initial research has suggested that it may help treat liver disease, there’s no properly researched dosage for this use, as of this writing.

Red Yeast

Red yeast, which should not be confused with the Chinese grocery store item red yeast rice, is a product obtained by fermenting Monascus purpureus (a type of yeast) on rice. This fermentation process is carefully controlled, as to make sure that the concentration of chemicals necessary for lowering cholesterol actually increases.
Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels was actually the purpose for which red yeast was developed; its efficiency, side effects, and interactions with other substances are very similar to those of ‘statins’. These are prescription drugs, such as Iovastatin (Mevacor). Beware, though, that red yeast hasn’t been sufficiently researched on humans. The FDA actually deemed a drug whose main ingredient was red yeast (Cholestin) as unsafe, until the manufacturers changed its formula. There’s some research on using red yeast for liver disease, and it suggests taking 1.2g daily for 12 weeks, in order to lower disease-related liver enzymes and improve blood thickness.

Milk Thistle

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Image source: Tumblr.com

This plant has a long-standing myth surrounding it. It takes its name from the Virgin Mary, since its leaves come with unique white markings, which is said to have been left there by milk. The plant produces a milky sap, hence the name. Moreover, not only are the plant’s seeds and other aboveground parts used for making medicine. They’ve been used historically since ancient times, when Greek physician Dioscorides used it against snakebites; in Europe, it’s a popular folk remedy for mushroom poisoning.

That being said, the effectiveness of its main active ingredient, silymarin, has not been sufficiently tested on humans. There’s a 2007 independent review of 13 clinical trials involving the substance; the research of its use in treating alcoholic liver disease, as well as hepatitis C and B was then deemed as flawed. In other words, don’t hold your breath for milk thistle to reduce the damage done by a night spent drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco, because there just isn’t any science to back this ‘liver detox’ claim up.

Brain Health Supplements

As is the case with liver health supplements, much of the same can be said of fish oil pills, whose Omega-3 content has long since been touted as a guarantee against cognitive function decline. A recent large scale study, however, shows that this $1.2 billion industry is based on false promises. Omega-3-rich foods are, indeed, good for your brain, but you need to start young and be consistent about eating them. Turning back the clock past age 70 is not really possible, the study showed. That being said, let’s take a look at 3 ingredients you will want to see listed in your brain health supplement formula list.

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Image source: TheSilverInk.com

DHA

As any such list would have it, we will unavoidably start with an omega-3 essential fatty acid. DHA deficiency has been linked with a long list of brain issues and psychiatric afflictions, including (but not limited to) depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, and ADHD. A recent study from the Harvard School of Medicine has revealed that 99% of adult Americans are omega-3 deficient. Our recommendation is to include it in your diet as much as possible, via fatty fish like salmon, and certain nuts and seeds. In return for increasing your DHA levels, you’ll lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to a study from Tuft’s University.

Vitamin D

There’s no such thing as a miracle food, a cure-all, or a super remedy that will instantly boost your brainpower. However, insofar as brain supplements go, vitamin D is the best thing you’ll find out there. It can help treat depression, improve your memory function, and your problem-solving skills. It can help ward off several kinds of cancer, osteoporosis, heart problems, and diabetes. And, even with all those benefits, a 2011 study has shown that 1 billion people worldwide are deficient, and some 40 to 90% of all adult Americans. So supplement your intake and don’t forget to get as much time in the sun as you possibly can.

Vitamin B12

Over 50? Vegan or vegetarian? Then you likely need to supplement your intake of B12, the only major vitamin that can only be found in animal foods. Deficiencies can be popularly understood as a perpetual state of ‘brain fog’ and have been scientifically linked with dementia, early-onset Alzheimer’s diseases, and other brain function issues. On the other hand, an Oxford University study has linked B12 supplementation, in conjunction with folic acid and B6, with a decline in the risk for dementia, as well as correlating the supplementation with lower homocysteine levels (i.e. treating Alzheimer’s). As such, we recommend taking a vitamin B supplement complex, to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered.

Heart Health Supplements

It’s important to begin by saying that the nutrients, vitamins, and supplements below have all been linked with lowering cholesterol levels, better blood pressure, and several other risk factors for heart disease. However, all this means is that they will likely help you ward off coronary heart disease, strokes, and other such cardiovascular issues. There’s no direct correlation between them and a risk-proof heart. With that being said, check out the 6 nutrients below. You can obtain most of them naturally, from your diet, but you can also supplement with pills, if you feel the need to do so.

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Image source: StrictlyNoNonsense.com

Fiber

Yes, your heart needs you to eat your veggies. Including at least 25-30g of food fiber in your diet will help lower LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and increase HDL (“good cholesterol”). That’s because fiber literally soaks up the cholesterol in your body and helps keep both your digestion and your heart healthy. Aside from eating fiber-rich greens, legumes, and nuts, you can also supplement with blond psyllium husk (found in most fiber supplements, bars, shakes, and grain mixes).

Sterols & Stanols

Check out the labels of your favorite supermarket food: sterols and stanols are included in many formulas for margarine, yoghurt, and orange juice, so you can get an arguably heart-healthy breakfast. Some 2g per day will help lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Coenzyme Q10

You’ve definitely seen CoQ10 advertised in skin lotion commercials—and for good reason, too. It’s scientifically known as ubiquinone, ubiquinol, or (less scientifically) as ‘the fountain of youth’. Not only can this coenzyme, which the body naturally produces, help you look young, but it can also enable you to boast the healthy body of a young person, from the inside out. CoQ10 is often used to alleviate the side effects of LDL lowering drugs (statins), because such medication will suppress the body’s natural resources of the coenzyme.

Fish Oil

We’ve already established that fish oil is no miracle drug; however, the abundance of omega-3 that the oil contains is undisputable. Take such supplements to lower the level of bad fats (triglycerides) in your blood, by as much as 30%. Take at least two 3.5oz servings of the supplement per week, but don’t expect it to make your heart immune to the effects of liver-damaging lifestyle factors like alcohol abuse and smoking.

Garlic

There’s no evidence that this delicious veggie can actually help lower the risk of plaque build-up along the arteries, but adding it to your diet won’t hurt. And, as a boon, it might just ward off blood clots, bad cholesterol, and hypertension.

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Image source: HomesCanberra.com.au

Green Tea

Drink up the stuff. There’s some evidence that it will boost HDL, lower LDL, and drive down triglycerides and cholesterol levels!

Eye Health Supplements

The eye seems such a delicate organ that you might even be hard-pressed to believe good old vitamin and nutrient supplements can actually help. It does seem an unlikely hypothesis, especially when dealing with more complex eye health issues like AMR and cataract. And, while it’s true that none of the substances below can aid in actually curing such disorders, they can work genuine wonders in terms of ongoing care and prevention. As an essential note, you’re probably already getting a lot of them (most notably vitamins C and E) from the foods in your diet. If you’re not, try upping your intake, but do mind that some come with adverse reactions when consumed to excess (yet again, we’re looking at you, vitamin E).
The minerals and vitamins on the lists below have all been sufficiently researched by science to be included on a quasi-exhaustive list of eye health supplements. They make no promise they can’t keep, but they are effective in the long-term. Check them out, keep eating right, and make sure your supplement of choice has them listed (in sufficient quantities) among their ingredients.
• Vitamin C. Not only does this anti-oxidant help keep your eyes healthy, but it’s also a great ingredient in eye creams and lotions. One such effective cream is the Revitalizing formula from Avalon Organics.
• Vitamin E. Care to try an eye cream, which comes with a powerful blend of anti-oxidants in its formula? Go for the Murad Resurgence Renewing Eye Cream, which includes Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4 and a patented Eye Brightening Complex for eye skin renewal.
• Beta-carotene. Remember that Vitamin C graduation anthem, Friends Forever? Well, that’s how the relationship works between these three ingredients. Vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene are all powerful anti-oxidants, proven to work in delaying the effects of ARM by AREDS. For a good AREDS-compliant eye health supplement, try ICAPS from Alcon, which also comes with the added bonus of being safe for lactose intolerance sufferers. Keep in mind that beta-carotene is counter-recommended for smokers, who are better advised to substitute it for Lutein. One formula that takes this into account is PreserVision Eye Vitamin Lutein Formula Soft Gels.

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Image source: ClarkEye.com

• Vitamin A. Long debated by health authorities, retinol is currently making a comeback, in terms of treating the effects of aging on the skin and eyes. Vitamin A can help ward off all those pesky skin issues in the eye area, such as dark circles, wrinkles, crow’s feet, etc. Use it together with the above anti-oxidant, beta-carotene, to keep other eye health issues at bay, such as red, dry eyes and night blindness. And for some good commercial products, we recommend just about any formulas and designs in the skin, hair, and anti-aging product categories from DS Laboratories. Pro tip: you can usually find great coupon code discounts for their rather pricey products floating around online.
• Vitamin K. Vitamin K has some rather stunning, divergent effects. It’s especially recommended for smokers, since it can both prevent your blood from clotting, and restore calcium deposits in your bones. Recent studies have proven it is also effective in delaying the effects of age-related macular degeneration.
• Vitamin D. Beware a double vitamin k and vitamin d deficient, since you can’t really make one work for your eye health without the other. Also, if you’re facing the common nuisance of having one or both your eyes twitching, try supplementing with vitamins B12, D, and electrolytes—and watch how that twitch goes away on its own.
• Zinc. AREDS has shown that zinc does work against ARM, but only in mild cases, or cases in which it only affects one eye. Meanwhile, AREDS2 has shown that formulas with less zinc are still effective in delaying the effects of ARM.
• Zeaxanthin. Together with lutein, it has been shown to work better against ARM than beta-carotene. Some of the most recent eye serum and eye drops formulas include this ingredient, based on preliminary research results included in AREDS2.
• Lutein. One great vitamin supplement that includes lutein is Ocuvite Eye Vitamins from Bausch + Lomb. It’s been known to work against ARM, PVD, and several other eye health issues, so we recommend buying it wholesale from the manufacturer, because you can find it for cheaper than in stores. An alternative formula that gets very good reviews, and can often be purchased at discount prices online, is Evoa Supplemental Eye Vitamins, which can meet your daily recommended doses of vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, Lutein, and omega-3 fatty acids. As is the case with Cosamin and Cosequin for bone health, the eye health of your pets also relies on lutein. As such, we recommend that you shop for EverydayVet Vision Plus Health Supplement for Dogs and Cats. It comes with a fully natural, all-organics ingredient list for your cat and/or dog.
• Omega-3 essential fatty acids. If supplementing for this nutrient with fish oils, make sure they have been decontaminated of mercury and other toxic substances. AREDS2 has shown that these acids don’t cross off the effects of AMD per se, but they may yet come with overall health benefits for your body.
• Calcium
• Selenium 
• Thiamin
• Folic acid

The Only 5 Vitamin Supplements You Really Need

Here’s an important reminder for you: the best way to make sure you get all the vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants you need is a healthy diet, supplemented with at least a moderate amount of physical activity out in the sun. The vast majority of sound scientific research conducted thus far on the following vitamins involved whole foods, not supplements. Also, many vitamin supplement ‘reviews’ highly exaggerate the findings of these studies or are downright lying to you. How so? Indeed, there may be studies that correlate vitamin A supplementation with a lower incidence of certain cancers. But correlation is not causation, as you should know! Moreover, many supplements contain far less than the DRD/DRI (daily recommended dose/intake) of a specific ingredient. That being said, let’s take a look at the essentials.

#1 Beta-caroten

The human body, this extraordinary machine, has the ability to turn this major antioxidant into vitamin A, which helps keep your eyesight 20:20, your skin radiant, and your immunity top notch. However, vitamin A supplements are not good for everyone: 2004 research shows it can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers. Smoker or not, we advise you to rather supplement your intake of carrots, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes.

#2 Vitamin B9

Also known as Folic Acid, this vitamin is essential for the health of unborn babies, as deficiencies cause spina bifida spinal tube defects. Before you get to vitamin B9 supplements, make sure you’re getting all your dark green veggies, citrus fruit and fortified cereal. You need 400mg/day if you’re anything else except for a pregnant lady, and 600mg if you’ve got one on the way (or are lactating). Otherwise, it remains unclear whether or not B9 can really help ward off cancer, heart issues, or mental issues.

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Image source: SheKnows.com

#3 Vitamin C

To a certain extent, the myth that vitamin C supplements can ward off colds is true. There’s research that suggests that regular supplementation does shave a day off the duration of the cold. However, it won’t make the illness go away by magic! Supplement vitamin C intakes especially if you’re a smoker, or a non-smoker who’s regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. And don’t forget to eat your berries, broccoli, peppers, and citrus fruit, of course.

#4 Vitamin D + Calcium

It’s common knowledge that vitamin D and calcium work together to ward off reduced bone density and its troublesome effect, osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiencies also cause kids to develop rickets. It’s just as well-known that dairy (milk and all its byproducts) is a great source, as are kale and canned sardines. However, what you may not know is that calcium supplements are not recommended for those at risk of renal insufficiency, as well as for elderly, post-menopausal women aged 70 and over.

Also, vitamin D can be harder to get for people aged 50 and over, as well as for those with dark skin. And bear in mind that there’s research suggesting that vitamin D supplements can even lower your odds at developing multiple sclerosis, as well as type 1 and 2 diabetes. So, to conclude, stick to 500mg of calcium supplementation per day, paired with a vitamin D supplement, which will help your body absorb the calcium. And get plenty of sunlight!

#5 Vitamin E

If you’re a certain age, you might still believe that vitamin E is essential for a healthy heart. Sorry to break it to you, but a 2005 study found that 600 IUs of vitamin E per day have absolutely no effects, neither positive nor negative, on the risk of stroke or cancer on middle-aged and elderly women. And there’s a similar 2008 study, which looked at the effect of 400 daily IUs of vitamin E on men, with similar results. However, like any antioxidant, it does help keep your body running properly, so consider vitamin E supplementation for a boost in overall levels of health and energy. You can also get it from certain foods, like eggs, peanuts, fruit, and leafy greens, but try to eat them raw and/or fresh. Cooking and storing vitamin E-rich foods can lower antioxidant levels.

Multivitamin supplements

The jury is still out on the actual benefits of multivitamin supplements. There are certainly some important deficiencies plaguing Americans nowadays, including fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin K, and more. But from this to the definitive certainty, touted by many manufacturers, that multivitamin supplements can ward off cancer… there’s a long way to go. A 2006 NIH panel found no evidence between multivitamin use and lower risks of breast cancer, while the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality says it could only reduce cancer risks for people with poor nutritional habits.12 multivitamin-supplements-benefitsImage source: Trainer.ae

With, that being said, the Harvard School of Medicine does recommend multivitamin supplements with added vitamin D for most adults. It will likely boost your energy, but don’t expect it to act like some sort of magic shield against cancer and other serious, life-threatening diseases. Here’s a checklist to compare with the label and help you identify the best multivitamin supplement for your needs:

  • Make sure they cover the basics. These are vitamin C, vitamin B1 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B12, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), biotin, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D2 or D3 (cholecalciferol), vitamin K, as well as several minerals (iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, calcium, zinc, etc.).
  • Make sure the DV is at 100%. This won’t be possible for all the ingredients, since including the full quantity for some, like calcium and magnesium, would make the pill too large to swallow. But make sure you’re hitting all those other important ones.
  • Make sure they fit your profile. These days, good multivitamin suppliers are creating specific formulas for people of different ages and genders. Look for something that is uniquely right for you!

All You Need to Know about Hair, Nails, and Skin Beauty Supplements

Truly effective hair, skin, and nails supplements prove that beauty does come from the inside after all. We’re here to share some tips on what supplements maintain skin elasticity, can help you keep your skin clear, and can even show anti-aging effects. Skin tightening supplements, lush hair solutions, and even fast nail growing supplements are right at your fingertips!

  • Fern extract, for healthy sun-kissed skin. We love being out in the sun, but we also know that exposure to UVa and UVb rays can wreak havoc. From skin that grows old before its time to dangerous melanoma, there’s a world of reasons why you need to keep your skin safe. Try an antioxidant skin supplement with fern extract, which has been shown to reduce DNA damage caused by exposure to UVa rays, as proven in a study from the University of Miami. In brief, this means fewer wrinkles and sunspots!
  • Biotin, for healthy nails. Summertime is a great time for splashing about, but too much exposure to water can damage your nails. Try the vitamin B supplement biotin, which will help reduce the negative effects of excessive exposure to salt and chlorine.

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Image source: ABCNews.com

  • Idebenone, for tighter, younger skin. This tiny antioxidant will reach deep into your skin and fix damaged cells, according to research from the Eastern Virginia Medical School.
  • Primrose & blackcurrant oil, for hair, skin, and nails. Both of them are great sources of GLA (gamma-linoleic acid), says a professor from the University of Arizona. For great results, take 500mg of either, in 2 daily doses, for at least 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Fish oil, for perfect nails. Okay, so it might not ward off cancer, but it will definitely keep your nails healthy. A daily dose of 2 to 3 grams will give you a combined 1 gram of EPA and DHA, which are essential for your nails.
  • Imedeen, for skin elasticity post-menopause. A 6 month study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition says this biomarine complex really works! How? By increasing the skin’s moisture levels by 30% and thus helping fade spots, reduce wrinkles, and making the skin more luminous. Imedeen contains lycopene, vitamin C, and other antioxidants, which stimulate the body’s production of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid.
  • Iron & vitamin C, for thicker hair. A lot of people lose hair because they’re actually anemic. With critically low levels of iron in your blood, you also get fewer blood cells, without which hair follicles can’t stay healthy. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron more efficiently.

How do hyaluronic acid skin supplements work?

You’ve definitely heard of this or that Hollywood star using hyaluronic acid injections to reduce wrinkles, or to plump her lips with fillers. You probably don’t know how hyaluronic acid works when taken orally, nor are you likely aware of where it comes from. First off, the human body does produce it on its own—it can be found in the liquid surrounding the eye. The substance used for medical purposes, as well as in nutricosmetics, is either taken from rooster combs (bet you wouldn’t have guessed that one, huh?), or produced in labs. Initially, it was used as an egg substitute in baking. It’s been used in the cosmetic industry since 1996 and is also employed to restore connective tissue health, as is the case in knee injuries.

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Image source: DayHospitalBW.it

But do hyaluronic acid supplements really work? The whole craze started from a 2004 ABC documentary, which claimed that the Yuzurihara people of Japan owed the beauty of their almost wrinkle-free skin to a starchy, tuber-based diet. This allegedly promotes the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, keeping their skin clear, tightened, and youthful; a Japanese company produced the first supplement like this. However, most researchers of the supplements state that the substance comes with too high a molecular weight to be absorbed by the body. In plain English, the body can’t digest them—yet the cosmetics industry is hard at work in trying to come up with absorbable formulas. It remains as of yet unknown if such a quick process would be safe for the human body.

Are collagen skin supplements any good?

You might know that collagen is the substance that keeps your skin taut and joints healthy. Perhaps you’re also aware of the fact that the body’s production of collagen starts to dwindle past the age of 30, which is why wrinkles begin to appear and our knees start to give in. It is believed that the current American diet, largely including boneless, skinless animals, has contributed to speeding up this collagen production process. How so? If you’ve ever had homemade broth, you’ll know there’s a film clinging to its surface; and, yes, that’s collagen right there.
So, do collagen skin supplements work? The answers are mixed, but some recent research does shine through with a glimmer of hope. A major, double-blind 2014 study has found that women who took a daily dose of 2.5g of Verisol saw a 20% reduction in wrinkles around the eyes. What’s more, their pro-collagen production levels were enhanced by no more than 65%. In short, yes, these supplements might actually work!

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Image source: Eternogen.com

If you’re considering shopping for collagen supplements, make sure to look for two particular Peptides: Verisol and BioCell, as they’re the only two that have been sufficiently researched until now. Spring for the powder, which can be mixed into smoothies, yogurt, tea, and even water. Commercial collagen juice shots come in 2floz bottles and also contain hyaluronic acid, antioxidants extracted from fruit, as well as resveratrol. Finally, there are several pills out there that contain pure Verisol collagen peptides, and some are even highly affordable.

The 4 most popular skin supplements on the market right now

We’ve given you the science, the facts, and the data. Time for some reviews now. Here are the top selling 4 skin supplements your money can buy at the moment:

• Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Supplement

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Image source: MakeUpAndBeauty.com

Price: $72 for 1floz
Pros
– Very light texture, which makes it appropriate for all types of skin, including oily skin and skin plagued by acne;
– Contains several good ingredients, including sodium hyaluronate, as well as several other powerful anti-oxidants;
– No fragrance.
Cons
– Not the cheapest product in its class, that’s for sure;
– It’s not actually a supplement, but a serum;
– Since it has an air-sensitive formula, the bottle comes with a drop dispenser, which may make it difficult to actually apply;
– Tested on animals.
Conclusion: Don’t bother, really. Oral skin supplements can be found for far lower prices and have better science backing them up.

• Murad Pure Skin Clarifying Dietary Supplement

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Image source: FrivolousGirl.com

Price: $43 for 120 capsules

Pros

  • Shows amazing results with rosacea, cystic acne, and other difficult cases of adult acne;
  • Works in as little as 2 weeks and in up to 2 months for more complex cases;
  • Reviewers also report mood improvements, thanks to its vitamin B complex formula;
  • Also helps with under-eye circle reduction;
  • Stops breakouts for good, if used properly.

Cons

  • Not exactly cheap, or even affordable;
  • Users can experiment further breakouts after stopping the treatment.

Conclusion: Though it’s not cheap, this product’s results make it almost universally liked. Users report visible, quick improvements with their oily and/or acne-ridden skin issues. For the best results, the letter must follow this treatment. Many report that this was the only product to work for them, aside for Accutane.

• Perricone MD Skin Clear Supplements

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Image source: MostertenVanLeeuwen.eu

Price: $85 for a 30-day supply

Pros

  • Reviewers report it works for adult acne, even with cases of hormonal cystic acne;
  • Also comes with an accompanying Dr. Perricone diet, for truly glowing skin and skin health;
  • Works for body (neck, back, shoulder) acne as well
  • Expect to see improvements in under a week and definite results in 1 to 2 months
  • Prevents clogged pores.

Cons

  • Pricey, pricey, pricey;
  • Some users report bloating or slight stomach discomfort;
  • Some users state that some of the pills may be hard to swallow;
  • On days you forget to take your pills, you can expect breakouts.

Conclusion: This is another excellent supplement for oily skin, which will help rid you of adult acne once and for all. Most of the online reviews we could find were glowing, even though the majority lamented the price. Our tip: wait for the product to go on sale with your favorite online drug store, stock up, and forget about ever using any other product for clear skin.

• Erno Laszlo Hydraphel Skin Supplement

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Image source: Blogspot.com

Price: $55 for 6.8oz

Pros

  • The formula has been specifically designed for very dry, flaky, sore skin;
  • Fragrance and alcohol-free;
  • Unlike many other products from this brand, it contains no irritants;
  • Not tested on animals.

Cons

  • Not actually a dietary supplement, but a hydrating toning lotion, i.e. an addition to your skincare routine;
  • The ingredient list is entirely boring and contains no state-of-the-art substances;
    Expensive, but the premium price is not justified by the run-of-the-mill formula.

Conclusion: If you’re a brand loyalist, then this is definitely the only toner from Laszlo you should consider. This especially applies for people with dry skin; however, many other brands produce better such toners, without slapping the pointless ‘supplement’ tag to their names and while also including better ingredients in the formula.

What Are the Best Natural Energy Supplements Out There?

We’ve already established that the nutritional supplement industry is growing a dramatically fast pace. But did you know that the energy boosting supplements segment is actually among the fastest growing? That’s what the most recent data from the Washington D.C.-based trade organization Council for Responsible Nutrition tells us, and we can’t but believe them.
That being said, before we dive right into the best natural supplements for boosting your energy, it’s worth asking yourself what you understand by ‘energy’. A pre-workout energy kick is different than the type of energy you’d require for making it through a fairly average day at the office. What’s more, men and women have different levels of energy expenditure and replenishment. And then comes the issue of ingredients, many of which will leave you puzzled. You’ve definitely heard of caffeine before, taurine may sound familiar, too. But when it comes down to kola nuts and CoQ10 you might start to get a bit weary.
To make things easier on you, we’ve broken down all the info on energy supplements you need into three categories: those that kick your metabolism into an even higher gear, those that help it do a better job of turning fuel into fire (i.e. nutrients into energy), and those that stoke the fire (i.e. add calories for your body to burn through).

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Image source: Levodyn-FR.com

Energy supplements for boosting your metabolism

– Caffeine

You can get caffeine from a lot of herbal sources, including kola nuts, yerba mate, green tea, and guarana. And it’s the caffeine that actually makes you move faster, with better mental focus, even in the case of products that are being promoted as ‘natural’ alternatives to caffeine. It’s the catalyst behind green tea, which also contains a caffeine-related compound called theophylline, plus a powerful antioxidant (epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG).

– Capsaicin

You may not necessarily feel faster or stronger after you’ve had a whole chili pepper. However, the main active substance in those fiery red veggies, capsaicin, has been shown to have some metabolism boosting abilities.

– Ginseng

Asian Ginseng has long since been studied for its tonic effects. Siberian Ginseng, often called eleuthero in brief, was tested on Russian astronauts. The research did report some improvement to mental focus, stamina, and physical energy.

– Bitter orange

Proceed at your own risk with this one, because there’s some preliminary research linking it to heart and vascular issues. That’s likely because the active ingredient in this citrus rind extract is synephrine, which is very similar to the substance ephedrine. The latter was pulled off the market in 2004, because it was found to pose a life-threatening risk.

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Image source: Gymaholic.co

Energy supplements for better nutrient absorption

Bear in mind that the energy supplements in this category will only work with a balanced diet. In fact, if your diet is truly healthy and rich in all the important nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, you probably won’t even need any of the following. However, let’s say you need a bit of a boost in the way your metabolism absorbs nutrients.

  • CoQ10
  • B vitamins: B6, B12, folic acid (B9), thiamine, niacin
  • Creatine, carnitine, and amino acids (tyrosine, phenylalanine, taurine)

But what if you’re deficient in any of those substances? A large segment of the population does display such deficiencies: on the one hand, there are the athletes who often over-exert themselves, and, on the other, people with poor nutritional habits, as well as those who (over)use painkillers, antibiotics, and/or acid blockers. If you fall into any of those categories, consider supplementing your diet with any of the many sports powders, bars, or tablets out there. Jus bear in mind that prolonged use is not entirely safe. Recent research has found that creatine can block sweating during longer bouts of physical activity, which, in turn, can lead to dehydration, and muscle cramping.

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Image source: RacerXVT.com

Energy supplements for fueling your muscles

You’ve definitely seen them in ads, supermarket aisles, or even at your local gym: sports drinks, energy bars, enhanced water, and their ilk. Are they any good? It all depends on you, actually. They work because they come with high-glycemic index carbs on their ingredient list. This means your blood glucose spikes, and, with it, so does your insulin. For the (very) short term, you get an energy boost; in the longer run, you may experience pain, inflammation, and stomach issues.
If you’re an athlete, you can occasionally spring for them, post-workout. That’s actually a great time for carbs, as they’ll give you the blood sugar boost you need, in order to recover. But if you need more energy after a long day spent on the couch, watching Netflix, forget it. You’re better of getting a power nap. Otherwise, all those sugary calories will go straight to your waistline!