Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, herbs and other
botanicals, and various other substances that are added to a diet because they are
considered to be useful for maintaining or improving health. A botanical is a plant
or part of a plant that is supposed to have medicinal or therapeutic properties. Supplements
include a variety of vitamins, minerals like calcium and iron, herbs such
as echinacea and garlic, and specialty products like glucosamine, probiotics, sports
drinks, and fish oils. They come in many forms, including pills, capsules, powders,
drinks, and energy bars.

Although many supplements are expensive, and other than vitamins they are seldom
needed, the use of supplements by Americans is extensive. A 2016 survey conducted
for the dietary supplement industry trade association, Council for Responsible
Nutrition (CRN), found that supplements are taken by 71% of U.S. adults—more
than 170 million of us. The survey found that 75% of supplement users take a multivitamin
and that the next most popular supplements are vitamin D, vitamin C,
calcium, and vitamin B/B complex.

Widespread use does not mean that supplements are needed. Unlike prescription
drugs, other than vitamins, very few supplements are scientifically proven to be
beneficial to health. An editorial published in the Journal of the American Medical
Association (JAMA) titled “The Supplement Paradox: Negligible Benefits, Robust
Consumption,” noted that “During the past two decades, a steady stream of
high-quality studies evaluating dietary supplements has yielded predominantly disappointing
results about potential health benefits, whereas evidence of harm has
continued to accumulate.” Available scientific evidence indicates that for most
people eating a varied healthy diet, supplements are not needed, and they can be

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel