Think Supplements Are BS? This Might Change Your Mind

Think Supplements Are BS? This Might Change Your Mind Hero Image
Photo: Nataša Mandić

If I had a dollar for every time I've had a patient tell me "my doctor told me that vitamins just make expensive urine." They say this because they've heard that supplements are not actually absorbed or utilized by the body—and therefore pointless. I recoil because most of the natural supplements I use are not that expensive and they all have a scientific basis I can monitor during use. Here are some stunning instances in which supplements have been proved to have an impact on health and survival:

1. CoQ10 and selenium.

In a long-term study of healthy persons over age 70 in northern Europe, the combination of CoQ10 and selenium was compared to placebo with long-term follow-up. Both agents have antioxidant function, and selenium is used by many enzymes for cellular protection. In subjects with low blood selenium levels, the combination of CoQ10 and selenium lowered the observed rate of death from an absolute measure of 24 percent to 12 percent. Even those with higher blood levels had a large drop in mortality on the active supplement program.

2. Oral EDTA.

EDTA is a chelating agent with the purpose of removing calcified plaque in arteries. A large trial using EDTA given intravenously demonstrated clinical benefits. A form of EDTA that can be taken orally was studied and shown to also dissolve and regress calcified arterial plaque in blood vessels.

3. Bergamot.

Photo: @shark_749

Bergamot is a citrus that grows in southern Italy in the region of Calabria. Studies show it can lower cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and assist in weight management. In an investigation of the effects of bergamot on atherosclerosis in carotid arteries in a clinical setting, just six months of therapy reduced measures of plaque in these important arteries compared to placebo.

4. Garlic.

Can something as simple as aged, odorless garlic affect the status of damaged heart arteries? Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, using advanced imaging, have tested this type of preparation and demonstrated it to slow the progression of plaque in heart arteries.

5. Berberine.

Berberine is a yellow salt found in many plants and is available as a supplement in capsules. In a randomized investigation of the impact of berberine in patients with weakened hearts and congestive heart failure (CHF), there was an increase in heart strength and a decrease in measures of CHF in those assigned to the group taking berberine.

6. CoQ10 in CHF.

In a four-year randomized study of CoQ10 or placebo in over 400 patients with advanced CHF, the use of CoQ10 cut mortality in half and reduced hospitalizations, too.

The universal basis of a healthy lifestyle is a whole foods diet rich in plants, stress management, movement, and social support. The six examples above indicate that selective use of supplements can have a profound impact on wellness and even life span. The next time you hear that supplements just become expensive urine, flush that advice and do the research for yourself.