The 10 Most Popular Supplements

6. Glucosamine/Chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are natural substances found in healthy joint cartilage. Both are used as alternative treatments to help osteoarthritis. Research is mixed. Both supplements hold promise for moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis; however, a 2008 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that taking 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine daily for two years did not help relieve pain, increase daily function, or reduce joint space narrowing in patients with hip osteoarthritis. High dosages (above what is recommended) of glucosamine may cause gastric problems, nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, and heartburn.

7. Homeopathy
Homeopathy is based mostly on the principle that “like cures like” (that which you have is that which I will give you in tiny doses, similar to the principle behind most vaccines). Supporters say that homeopathy is safe and often helpful, so (continued) gold- standard proof is unnecessary; others are not so convinced. Large, systematic studies have failed to show its effectiveness for any condition.

8. Other Vitamins
If you've been taking vitamin supplements in hopes of preventing cancer, save your money. The National Institutes of Health found that isolated dosages of synthetic vitamins did nothing to help subjects ward off cancer. While some observational studies have suggested that vitamin takers have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, it isn't clear if this is due to the supplements. For example, supplement users may be taking care of their health in other ways and be less overweight and more physically active.

9. Fish Oils
The American Heart Association recommends that patients with documented heart disease take about 1 daily gram of EPA+DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, respectively, types of omega- 3 fatty acids), preferably from fish, although EPA+ DHA supplements could be considered, but consult with your doctor first. For people with high triglycerides (blood fats), 2 to 4 grams of EPA+ DHA per day, in the form of capsules and administered under a physician's care, are recommended.

10. Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 is a popular antioxidant widely used to treat heart failure, cancer, migraines, and aging. Most investigators conclude that additional research is needed before its use can be recommended medically.

Source: Adapted from Nutrition Business Journal 2007 survey.

Excerpted from: Diet Myths That Keep Us Fat by Nancy Snyderman, M.D., 2009, Crown.

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