Dietary Supplements: Do They Really Work? They are dangerous? The best and worst of the 120 products analyzed

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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The new special issue of the magazine 60millions de Consommateurs is entirely dedicated to supplements, more or less natural remedies that are very popular to deal with the most common health problems or temporary conditions of imbalance. But are they really safe and effective?

Don't store avocado like this: it's dangerous

The new special issue of the magazine 60millions de Consommateurs is entirely dedicated to supplements, more or less natural remedies that are very popular to deal with the most common health problems or temporary conditions of imbalance. But are they really safe and effective?





The French consumer magazine wanted study and compare 120 supplements sold in pharmacies, drugstores, supermarkets but also in organic or dietetic stores. These belong to 6 different categories and are often recommended to address:

  • tiredness and fatigue
  • low mood
  • insomnia
  • stress
  • colds and respiratory ailments
  • digestive problems

Index

The test results

This test, carried out on a wide range of products, led to very different conclusions depending on the supplements and the individual aspects that were considered. Some of them have been found to be really useful while others have been accused of being able to create certain disorders or aggravate existing pathologies.

The underlying problem with some of these products is that their effectiveness is not always proven. Regardless of whether they are in the form of capsules, syrups or powders, food supplements are sold in bulk too lightly and even when their usefulness and safety is not confirmed by scientific research.

A heavy accusation launched by the French consumer magazine which, however, is not the first time that these products have to face.

Another problem encountered in food supplements is the presence of too many additives. Many products analyzed by the test contain an excessive amount of it and some of these are considered potentially harmful to health such as allura red dye which promotes hyperactivity in children or the titanium dioxide, accused of being pro-inflammatory and harmful to the immune system (it is no coincidence that France has decided to ban its use in food and therefore also in food supplements from January 2020).



Then there is the marketing discourse, or those slogans and promises of manufacturers regarding the content and benefits of supplements. We often boast of the very high number of substances present inside, for example vitamins but the magazine and its experts remind us that it is very difficult to measure all the synergies between the various ingredients and that "A lot" does not always equate to something positive.

Some dosages turn out to be excessive or useless, for example bring back + 200% of vitamin C. In some cases the elimination of excesses of these substances can even damage the liver or kidneys. Furthermore, it is likely that some vitamins, taken too much and for long periods, can damage the nervous system while, paradoxically, the supplement promises to improve its functionality. This is the case, for example, with vitamin B6 or vitamin B12.

Many substances used in food supplements can then cause side effects and producers, in some cases, refrain from warning potential categories most at risk. For example, there is the case of melatonin which, in some subjects, causes headaches or vomiting. Likewise, some essential oils can promote epileptic seizures or aggravate existing diseases.

Even some algae or microalgae, often recommended to detoxify the body, can be contaminated with heavy metals and therefore potentially harmful to the organs. And finally there are the Grapefruit or grapefruit seed supplements which can interact with commonly used drugs.

The best and worst for each category

But let's see in summary the best and worst supplements for each category. Consider that some have been penalized for the presence of essential oils (potentially allergenic), because they contain too many additives, they have ingredients whose effectiveness is not scientifically proven and more.



As you may have understood, the discussion on supplements and their real effectiveness and usefulness is very complex. As always we advise you to don't rely on DIY but to ask your doctor for advice, especially if you have medical conditions or are taking medications.

Fatigue and exhaustion

Good supplements, considering all the various characteristics examined, resulted in:

  • BIOTECHNIK • GINSENG VITALITY Cosmédiet-Biotechnie
  • HERBESAN PANAX GINS MEYER
  • C BIANE • ACEROLA PileJ

However, they do not come out well for several reasons:

  • NATURLAND PANAX GINSENG
  • NUTRISANTÉ FORCE G BOOSTER SHOT
  • NUTRI EXPERT GINSENG JELLY ROYALE Nutri Expert
  • PHYTOCEUTIC • GINSENG ROUGE Phytoceutic
  • BIOCYTE VITAMIN C LIPOSOMAL
  • NUTRISANTE VITAMIN C 500 MG
  • NATURES PLUS SUPER C COMPLEX
  • SOLGAR CHEWABLE VITAMIN C
  • VITT'ALL VITAMIN C COMPLEX 750
  • ALVITYL • VITALITY Urgo Healthcare Laboratories
  • BEROCCA PEPS FROSTED ORANGE
  • BION 3 • CONTINUOUS ENERGY Merck
  • VOICE FOR MULTIPLE VOICES
  • SOLGAR • MULTI I Solgar
  • VITALITY GRANIONS Granions Laboratory
  • NAT & FORM JUNIOR 9 VITAMINES Atlantic Nature

Low mood

The best mood supplement turned out to be:

  • NATESIS • ORGANIC SPIRULINA Natesis

The worst ones instead:

  • BIOCYTE • METAL OUT 2 Biocyte Laboratory
  • ORFITO • KLAMATH BioUltime
  • PHYTOCEUTIC SPIRULINE FORTE 1 000 MG Phytoceutic
  • POE N° 9 • DETOXIFICATION Bioligo
  • VITARMONYL SPIRULIN IRON-VITAMIN B9

Insomnia

The best in this category are:

  • ARKOFLUIDS RELAXATION-SLEEP
  • NATURACTIVE • SLEEP Pierre Fabre

The worst ones instead:

  • JUVAMINE • SLEEP 3 IN 1 Juva Health Laboratories
  • LEHNING • SLEEP DAY NIGHT Lehning
  • MAG 2 • SLEEP Cooper
  • NATURACTIVE SERIANE MELATONIN Pierre Fabre
  • PURESSENTIEL SLEEP + Puressentiel
  • VALDISPERT • PHYTO NUIT Vemedia

Stress

The best:

  • GOOD BYE STRESS • RELAXATION Carrara 45
  • GREEN HEALTH OMEGA 3, 1 MG DHA Green Health
  • OLIGOMAX • MAGNESIUM Nutergia

The worst:

  • BACH • OAK A. Nelson & Co Limited
  • BIOFLORAL • FLEURS DE BACH RELAXATION, ANTI-STRESS Biofloral Spray
  • D-STRESS Synergy 80
  • DAY-Nature COMPLEX EXAMINATION Diet-Nature 60
  • GINKOR MEMO Tonipharm
  • LECITONE • YOUNG IRB-Nutritanté Laboratories
  • PEDIAKID • OMEGA 3 Ineldea
  • THALAMAG • VITALITY Iprad

Colds and breathing problems

The best:

  • HOLISTICS • SHII-TA-KER Holistic

The worst:

  • ARISTÉE PROPOLIS EXTRA-STRONG ORGANIC Pollenergie
  • ASTHÉPLEX SOLD OUT ORGANIZATIONS Les 3 Chênes
  • NAT & FORM ORIGINAL MARRUBE BLANC Nat & Form
  • NATURE & HEALTH NATURAL DEFENSES Nature & Health
  • PROPALGAN • PROPOLIS Aragan
  • PROROYAL KID • SIROP GORGE Phytoceutic
  • OROPOLIS • LIQUID HEART Mediflor
  • SUPER DIET ORGANIC IMPERIAL SAP Super Diet
  • ALPENKRAFT PLANT SYRUP Salus
  • A. VOGEL • BRONCHOSAN A. Vogel
  • LÉRO • EUCALYPTOL Auvex
  • HERBALGEM ORGANIC COOLING SYRUP HerbalGem
  • OLIOSEPTIL • BRONCHI Ineldea
  • PRANARÔM SOFTENING GUM
  • OLIOSEPTIL THROAT-LARYNX SYRUP
  • PHYTOSUN ARÔMS NEZ ET GORGE Omega Pharma
  • PURESSENTIEL CITRUS GUM Puressentiel

Gastrointestinal problems

The best:

  • VIT'ALL+ LACTOBACILLUS GASSERI Vit'all

The worst:

  • NEW FERZYM • JUNIOR Specchiasol
  • IMMUNOSTIM BODY DEFENSES Urgo Healthcare
  • PHYTO-ACTIVE PROBIOTIL ULTRA Phyto-Active
  • PEDIAKID PROBIOTIC GUMS Ineldea

As a conclusion to his investigation of dietary supplements, 60millions de Consommateurs asks stricter regulations and clearer and more precise labels. This is very important precisely because supplements are increasingly appreciated and used but people take them too lightly without being aware of the risks.

Read also:

  • Supplements, when they are really needed and the mistakes not to be made
  • These food supplements are dangerous and should be banned (including aloe juice)
  • Food Supplements: Are They Dangerous? Do-it-yourself is prohibited
  • Supplements: 15 ingredients that could make you sick
  • Food supplements: how much do we know about their safety?
  • Vitamin D supplements don't improve bone health, the study
  • Herbalife, supplements cause liver failure. The study that accuses them

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