Blog Archive

Monday, 8 August 2011

Are Nutritional Supplements a Waste of Money?

Nutritional supplements can be purchased anywhere nowadays. Every supermarket we go and get our food from will stock vitamin tablets, fish oil, protein products, energy drinks and a range of other products. Health food stores and sports stores also stock a range of products that claim to enhance recovery and improve performance. But are supplements a waste of money or do they actually work??

Defining a supplement is actually very tricky. For example, taking a cherry concentrate can be classed as a supplement as you are taking a natural food in concentrated amounts and similarly taking creatine (found in meats and fish) in concentrated amounts but in a synthetic form is also classed as a supplement. So for the purpose of this article I will refer to a supplement when it is marketed as a 'supplement.' Although concentrated beetroot juice and cherry juice strictly speaking, are not supplements, I will still be reviewing these, as they have been shown to be promising products when tested on endurance and recovery in athletes.

I will update my blog over the next few months and discuss common supplements out there and review the science behind some products that are popular amongst athletes and nutritionists. In addition I will also discuss the issues of contamination within supplements which is a very controversial topic, particularly for Olympic and professional athletes who get drug tested. There are so many stories of athletes blaming a nutritional supplement for testing positive:

An example in athletics:

There are many more!

Here’s an excellent article written by Professor Louise Burke on the issue of contaminated supplements:

For now here is a list of supplements that have been shown to be effective and do work, ones that have a bright future, ones that have equivocal findings and ones that simply don’t work! I won’t be reviewing the ones that don’t work as that would be a huge waste of everyone’s time so if you currently take a supplement that is listed in the ‘Not Effective’ column then stop wasting your money! I will also discuss a range of brands in the UK that are safe and get their products batch tested as opposed to companies that don’t.

Effective Supplements
Promising Supplements but need further research
Not Effective


Carbohydrate drinks/gels/bars

Protein Powders e.g.Whey, Casein etc.


Meal Replacement drinks and recovery drinks


Probiotics for gut health

Vitamin D




Probiotics for immunity

Antioxidants (flavonoids, polyphenols )

Glucosamine Chondrotin






Fat Burners i.e. Thermogenics


Bee Pollen


Co-Enzyme Q10


Chromium Picolinate


Oxygenated Water

High dose vitamin tablets


Nitric Oxide

I will review these over the coming months.

Mayur Ranchordas


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