Skip to content
March 25, 2010 / Katie

Supplements—Snake Oil or Helpful?

One of the most basic tenets of FA is that we don’t blindly accept the propaganda of the diet industry that their NEW! LATEST! PRODUCT!!! is going to be the one thing we’ve been missing all our lives to suddenly make us waif-life. Not only is there not a single weight-loss product on the market that actually works for a majority of users, but many of them have terrible side-effects at best and life-threatening risks at worst (hello, meth-like diet pills, Alli, weight loss surgery, etc.)

Needless to say, Fat Activism works to dispel myths about weight-loss products that do WAY more damage than good and would never be approved for other conditions, exposing the anti-fat bias of medical professionals and organizations like the FDA.

So what about the supplements we use for other things? Are you taking melatonin to help you sleep, or fish oil for our joints, or cinnamon to help keep your diabetes under control? Information about the efficacy of these supplements can be really difficult to find, and you often have to weed through site after site claiming that this is the NEW! LATEST! PRODUCT!!! that will be a magic bullet to “fix what ails ye.”

I have come across a really excellent site that displays information about current popular supplements in an easy-to-read interactive visual diagram. If you disagree or are confused by the graphic, there are links on the page to find out more information and see the studies yourself. This has really helped me to make some better decisions about supplements, and I hope it helps you as well. I really do believe that accurate and truthful information is power, and we should be doing all we can to know about any supplements, medications, or procedures that we subjecting our body to. If you are taking supplements or considering it, please give this page a look!

Snake Oil? Scientific Evidence for Popular Health Supplements


Leave a Comment
  1. Arpita Bose / Mar 25 2010 11:24 am

    The United States National Library of Medicine (part of the National Institutes of Health) has information on some supplements via MedlinePlus. This website evaluates the “evidence” for and against the health claims made about the supplement.

    Other useful resources:
    National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
    Dietary Supplements Labels Database
    Office of Dietary Supplements
    Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center About Herbs

  2. Twistie / Mar 25 2010 12:41 pm

    That’s cool! It really is helpful to have the evidence set out visually for me, with links to where I can read more in depth. Thanks for pointing out such a great tool!

  3. Geogrrl / Mar 25 2010 1:12 pm

    I take supplements as necessary. I’m forgetful about pills because I dislike taking them.

    I take magnesium and malic acid (combined) for my RLS. It doesn stop it completely, but has helped tremendously. The Cal-Mag that’s usually recommended doesn’t do it for me.

    I take calcium and vitamin D supplements as per my doctor’s recommendation.

    Other than that, a multi-vitamin (when I remember).

    My Mom takes chondroitin and glucosamine for her arthristis and eyesight (I think that’s right) and thinks they’re great. She’s 83 and despite being a hypochondriac is actually in very good health for her age.

  4. AngelaT / Mar 25 2010 1:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing that. I hate the fact that it’s so hard to find any real information amidst all the hype for every supplement out there. Even on the internet which should have a wealth of information, mostly what you find is crap masquerading as science or people’s personal testimonials and sites trying to sell whatever their supplement of the week is.

  5. Katie / Mar 25 2010 4:25 pm

    I take vitamin D and folic acid. I have a proven vitamin d deficiency and I take folic acid my doctor prescribed it when he prescribed sulfasalazine, though I’m not entirely sure how the two are related. I’m not normally blindly loyal to what doctors say, I’m sure he told me, I just don’t recall.

    I do hate that it’s so hard to find real information and that chart is awesome, thanks for sharing.

  6. April D / Mar 26 2010 9:30 am

    Love that chart, especially how visual it is! Thanks for sharing! (also to Bose for the extra links) :D

  7. queerunity / Mar 28 2010 6:47 pm

    There are many things out there that are bogus but that doesn’t necessarily mean all alternative therapies are. Just because we can’t find a “scientific” reasoning for things we shouldn’t discount them if people feel they genuinely work for them.

  8. Sixwing / Mar 31 2010 8:18 am

    That’s a cool chart!

    I take fish oil and B vitamins, the former for reduction of pain and the latter for stabilization of moods. Both of these were on my doctor’s recommendation, and both seem to work. I’ve also taken other supplements that didn’t work on doctor’s recommendation. Not taking those any more. :p

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: