How dietary supplements bamboozled America


Spend any time watching television or scrolling through social media, and you’ll inevitably see advertisements for pills, powders and potions that promise to grow muscle, shed body fat, improve your focus and resurrect your youth.

Most of us have used them. At last count, the National Center for Health Statistics found that over 50% of all adults in America have used a supplement in the past 30 days. The center used data from 2017 and 2018, but more recent polls suggest this figure to be closer to over 70%.

Globally, the nutritional supplement industry was said to be worth over $140 billion in 2020. Within the United States alone, this figure is estimated to be around $36 billion – despite evidence that the majority of these supplements do not work.

How did products with questionable benefits and expensive prices become so mainstream? Nutritional supplements are not a new phenomenon. Their history dates back at least 150 years, and they’ve been able to thrive in the United States thanks to false promises, fanatical adherents and weak regulation.

Stoking an appetite for alternatives

Given the outlandish claims that can adorn supplement labels, it is perhaps unsurprising that some of the earliest supplement enthusiasts were religious figures. Their supplements weren’t pills, but rather food alternatives.

Sylvester Graham, born in 1794, was an American Presbyterian minister who preached salvation through a vegetarian diet. Part of Graham’s teaching centered on temperance and whole grain foods. Graham’s followers made and marketed Graham bread, crackers and flour with the promise that these products would promote righteous living and eternal salvation. Read more..

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  1. “thanks to false promises, fanatical adherents and weak regulation.”…when I read this, i had to go back and re-read it. I thought they were referring to the synthetic FDA approved poisons. If they think supplements are bad/useless, what do they think about food additives? Yeah, they’ll get back to us on that, huh? Unfortunately, big store supplements are made by the same companies that make FDA approved meds, the poisons in our food, insecticides, herbicides and are synthetic in nature. The studies done are also skewed on purpose, as the vast majority do not evaluate supplements from foodstuffs, only those synthetically derived. References to the food supply as culprit are on target, once again a synthetic creation devoid of nutrition. Those that realize the food chain/medical connection is not organic, but contrived, have a step up in determining what to put in their bodies. The rest? Do sheep/cattle complain about eating GMO grains infused with Glyphosate?

  2. living in an unnatural chemical and radioactive environment we can not relay on what would be holistic natural organic foods alone anymore. I wish to meditate further on this subject and provide you all the answer. peace to us all.

  3. Agriculture, conventional or organic, produces crops for maximum yield. If food was produced for maximum nutritional value instead, no supplements would ever be needed. Therefore it’s easy to eliminate the supplement business simply by producing food for maximum nutritional value.

  4. There’s no question the nutritional supplement world is mostly populated by snake oil hucksters. It’s always best to acquire macro and micro nutrients from whole food sources. That said, there are nutritional supplements backed by studies that can be beneficial, especially for an aging population. For example, as we age, we gradually lose our endogenous supply of growth hormone, and our bodies do not synthesize protein as efficiently into skeletal muscle, leading to somatopause and sarcopenia(muscle-wasting). By simply adding 10 to 15 grams of essential amino acids to your first protein containing meal of the day, you can greatly enhance muscle maintenance. Try it for 30 days, if you have ant doubts!

  5. Some supplements do work as advertised.
    Maybe some don’t work.
    Even the ones that do work, don’t work the same for everyone.
    Just like all highly formulated prescription drugs don’t always work for all people; different body chemistries.
    But you know that.
    If all drugs, supplements and herbs were totally bogus, those industries would dry up and blow away.
    You can’t fool all the people all the time.

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