The Value Of Dietary Supplements?

by Shannon Macri

First Off. I'd love to compliment you on an amazing blog,web site and a very helpful tool for us here in the U.S.A and all over the world. My question to you is: "Do you feel dietary supplements are a waste of money if a person eats healthy?" I personally feel the supplement industry is one big gimmick. I personally have had Chinese friends that lived here in my hometown and they never would think of using dietary supplements! I feel all your body needs is a healthy diet and the correct herbs for ones body along with exercise. Please give me your take on the dietary supplement industry since living in China.

Shannon Macri,Meriden,Ct

Matthew's reply: Hi Shannon, nice to hear from you again. I am not trained in the area of vitamin/mineral/dietary supplements, but I tend to agree that if you eat a healthy, balanced diet that meets your individual needs then supplements should not be necessary. However, who eats the right things ALL the time? And how do we know the foods we eat are not contaminated in some way and do actually contain the full range of nutrients we need?

I guess each person has to judge for themselves - if you eat healthily, have no health issues and feel great, then maybe you don't need any supplements. But if you don't always eat well and have some health problems and feel less than great, then it is possible certain supplements may help. I wouldn't rely on supplements long term though as nothing can replace a healthy, balanced diet and a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

On Chinese people using dietary supplements, in the last few years here I have noticed a huge increase in the range of products available in supermarkets and health and beauty shops. Perhaps it’s in response to consumer demand. There have been many food-related scandals here in the last few years (like tainted milk powder and recycling and reselling of old cooking oils from restaurants) so a lot of people are worried about food quality. Maybe they believe supplements are therefore necessary these days, and possibly they are.

But supplements can be contaminated too and not contain what the manufacturers say they do. See the Consumer Lab website - they do independent tests on supplements.

It sure can be difficult to know what to do regarding supplements as there is so much info around. If you do have some health issues, and a healthy diet and lifestyle has not resolved them, then I would ask around about recommended health professionals in your area and get some specific, face to face advice. If it is suggested that you take something, then give it a go for a few weeks/months then judge for yourself if you feel better. If things like mood, energy, sleep and digestion improve then maybe you were lacking in something.

All the best,


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