6 Supplements That Might Actually Help You
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6 Supplements That Might Actually Help You


♪Intro♪ Supplements are super popular. One recent survey estimates that more than
half of Americans use them, and we spend billions of dollars on them each year. The truth is, though, most people don’t
need any supplements, unless they’re deficient in a vitamin or mineral. And even if they are, they should probably
switch up their diet instead of buying pills or powders. That’s because when these chemicals are
eaten in food, your body can absorb and use them better. Plus, it’s much harder to overdose. A surprising number of supplements have actually
been shown to hurt us. In fact, every year, about 23,000 Americans
head to ERs because of adverse reactions. All that being said, there are a few supplements
— in the right situations — that might be worth it. Before you take anything, though, you should
definitely talk to a doctor, who will look at your personal situation and help you make
an informed choice. We’re not doctors. So, that being said, here are 6 supplements
that scientific research seems to give a green light to. At least… in some cases. One of the clear winners in the supplement
world is one that might look kinda sketchy, since it’s all over bodybuilding powders
and energy bars. But creatine is the real deal. It’s a molecule that you naturally make
in your liver and kidney, and mostly store in your muscles. And besides workout supplements, you can get
it from foods like beef and fish. Not everyone responds to extra creatine, but
studies have shown that many people see improvements in sports that require short bursts of power,
like sprinting. People can run faster, lift heavier weights,
and build more muscle. Creatine can also help with muscle recovery
from intense workouts, but doesn’t seem to help with endurance sports, like long-distance
running or swimming. Scientists think that the extra creatine gets
modified by your body and helps make the main molecule that cells use for energy: ATP. That extra available energy lets muscles work
harder than they normally would, especially in bursts. Outside of weightlifting competitions, creatine
also can help people with muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease that causes progressive
muscle loss and weakness. These patients tend to have lower levels of
natural creatine. And, in certain forms of the disease, supplements
increase muscle strength and let patients go about their daily lives more easily. Didn’t think we’d mention a trendy juice,
did you? But beet, or beetroot, juice seems to actually
do something! It’s made from beets — no shocker here. And in multiple studies, researchers have
found that it can improve athletic performance, specifically for aerobic sports, like running
or swimming. While the juice has a lot of potentially good
stuff in it, scientists think the part that’s most beneficial for exercise is the nitrate. Beets are chock full of it, and our bodies
will turn it into nitric oxide, which triggers blood vessels to get wider. This allows more blood to flow, so more oxygen
gets to your muscles. Your muscles use oxygen to break down food
to create energy to contract. So, with more oxygen around, you don’t tire
out as quickly. At least, that’s the working theory. For those same reasons, beet juice might also
help lower blood pressure. If you drink a lot, though, just be prepared
for some pink or red pee. Now, like we said, you typically don’t need
supplements unless you have a deficiency, so there’s no real good reason to take multivitamins. And non-food antioxidants generally don’t
help either. But there is one exception, for people with
age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. People with this condition are usually over
the age of 50. They slowly lose their vision, because of
damage to the macula, which is the central part of the retina — the light-sensitive
cells at the back of your eye. The basic idea is that because cells in the
retina absorb light, which can excite electrons and create reactive molecules called free
radicals, they could get damaged. So antioxidants, which sop up free radicals,
might help. And some of the most familiar vitamins, including
vitamin C and E, are antioxidants. There’s been quite a bit of scientific debate
and lots of clinical trials to pin down which vitamins and antioxidants are actually helpful. The general consensus is that certain combinations
do work well enough to slow the progression of AMD. They don’t prevent eye damage, but slowing
it down is still good. You’ve probably heard about this one, but
it’s worth mentioning because it’s one of the few cases where we have pretty indisputable
evidence that a supplement does some good. Folic acid, or folate, is a B vitamin — B9
to be exact. Vitamins are compounds that your body needs
to work and grow that you can’t make on your own, so you have to get them from somewhere
else, like food. Specifically, folic acid is important for
making red blood cells, and thymine and cytosine, two of the four bases that make up DNA. If that sounds kind of important, let me assure
you: it is. You can’t make new cells without it. So, while everyone needs folic acid, pregnant
people really need it, because they’re rapidly growing a whole new human inside them. That means the usual folic acid that we eat,
either naturally in leafy vegetables and other foods, or in fortified things like breakfast
cereal, may not be enough. Doctors advise pregnant people to take folic
acid supplements, both before and during the pregnancy. Without enough folic acid, they can develop
anemia, or too few healthy red blood cells. That can mean their tissues don’t get enough
oxygen, making them tired. And deficiencies can affect the baby’s growth
too, since they’re getting the vitamin from their parent. Not enough folic acid can cause a neural tube
defect early in development, which can be serious. In one defect, known as spina bifida, the
baby’s spinal column doesn’t close all the way, which can damage nerves and sometimes
leaves kids paralyzed. In another, called anencephaly, the baby doesn’t
fully develop its brain or skull. Most of these babies die before or just after
birth. Melatonin is sometimes marketed as a cure-all
for sleep-related problems. Its track record is a little spotty, but studies
have found small benefits in certain cases. It may be most useful for people who have
abnormal or disrupted circadian rhythms — like people with jet-lag, night shifts, or a condition
called delayed sleep phase syndrome, which is when your biological clock is perpetually
several hours behind. And that’s because melatonin is a hormone
that helps control our cycling in and out of sleep. As it gets later and dark outside, the pineal
gland in your brain starts to release the hormone, and it binds to receptors deep in
the brain to help usher you into dreamland. So when your body isn’t naturally making
melatonin — like if you’ve changed time zones — taking some could help ‘reset’
your internal clock, and let you get more rest than you otherwise would. And some studies support this idea, while
others find barely any improvement. Also, melatonin might help people with insomnia
fall asleep faster, and increase the total amount of time they sleep. It’s typically only about 10 extra minutes,
though… and in some experiments, those gains aren’t there. Last year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
even revised its guidelines to say that they don’t recommend melatonin for insomnia. Although they also admit that’s based on
relatively weak evidence. So the scientific community isn’t positive
about this one. Part of the problem is that even though melatonin
is relatively well studied, researchers have tested different dosages at different times
and for different things. So we can’t be too confident about what
it can do. The other big thing worth mentioning is that
even though people may use melatonin like a drug, basically to treat or prevent a condition,
the FDA doesn’t classify it as one. So it’s regulated in the US like a supplement. Which basically means… it’s not very regulated. A study published in 2017 found that 70% of
melatonin supplements have 10% more or less melatonin in them than their labels say, with
some falling in a enormously wide range. The supplements can also have other things
that aren’t listed on the label, like the neurotransmitter serotonin. And this could get dangerous, like too much
serotonin can lead to overactive nerves and a bunch of potentially severe symptoms, like
seizures. Last but not least is one of the oldest supplements
in the world: St. John’s wort. The saintly name comes from the fact that
the plant’s yellow flowers bloom around the birthday, and feast day, of John the Baptist. It’s been used for lots of maladies, going
back at least to the ancient Greeks. But it’s most famous for its effects on
mood. Modern scientists think that’s because of
the chemical hyperforin. Hyperforin prevents neurons from taking up
certain neurotransmitters, like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which leaves
more of them in synapses between cells. Scientists aren’t sure why this helps, but
having more of these neurotransmitters around may let neurons communicate better, and strengthen
the circuits in the brain responsible for controlling mood. Many standard antidepressants do the same
basic thing, even if their mechanisms are slightly different. Now, St. John’s wort has been tested in
multiple placebo-controlled trials. These are clinical trials in which some people
get the substance being tested, and others get a placebo, like a sugar pill. That way, researchers can tell if a drug or
supplement does anything. And those experiments showed that it helped
people with mild to moderate depression. The best case for St. John’s wort is a 2008
meta-analysis that included 29 different studies. It concluded that the supplement does better
than a placebo and is just as effective as standard antidepressants, but with fewer side
effects. But that meta-analysis also included a lot
of studies from Germany, where St. John’s wort is popular and tends to do well in trials. And other studies, especially those outside
Germany, have sometimes failed to see St. John’s wort doing much more than a placebo. Regular antidepressants sometimes fail in
those same tests too, though. So really, it goes to show how strong the
placebo effect can be. A huge downside of St. John’s wort is that
it interacts with a lot of other drugs and makes them less effective — like HIV antiretrovirals,
birth control, and organ transplant rejection drugs. And we’re not even close to listing them
all. Researchers think hyperforin triggers the
liver to make more of an enzyme that breaks down certain medicines, so you go through
them more quickly. And you most definitely should not combine
St. John’s wort with other antidepressants, because those drugs can also increase serotonin
levels, which can lead to a serotonin overdose. Because of other mechanisms, St. John’s
wort can also make you more sensitive to the sun, and it can lead to miscarriages, so pregnant
people should avoid it. Not to mention, some people are straight-up
allergic. So even the best-of-the-best supplements come
with some pretty huge caveats, or are very specific to certain people. And… that’s the biggest lesson here. In recent years, study after study has debunked
any benefit from a lot of supplements that we assumed were good. So, unless you work out a specific plan with
a medical expert, resist the urge to pop vitamins and botanicals to get healthier. Usually, you’re better off without them. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow,
which is produced by Complexly, a group of people who believe the more we understand,
the better we get at being humans! If you want to learn more about evidence-based
medicine, check out our other channel Healthcare Triage at youtube.com/healthcaretriage. ♪Outro♪

About Bill McCormick

Read All Posts By Bill McCormick

100 thoughts on “6 Supplements That Might Actually Help You

  1. Creatine. 5mg in the morning every day with my first 50 grams of whey isolate based protein. Heavier lifts for a longer time. Helps with recovery time also.

  2. CoQ 10 is my supplement of choice. I take statins and that causes significant muscle fatigue….CoQ10 reduces the muscle pain and fatigue. Recommended by my nephrologist.

  3. I think the best supplements for me are: creatine, b-complex, fish oils, magnesium, msm / sulphur, zinc, collagen, apple cider vinegar. I disagree with melatonin (careful, it's a hormone), and beet juice (is high sugar). But best to seek out the highest quality foods you can afford including large amounts of concentrated greens.

  4. What a load of useless rubbish. I could name 5 supplements which are scientifically proven to increase health, life span and combat cancer.

  5. A lot to criticize here. Such a good channel but it's misleading. People might walk away thinking supplements are bad where as there are a lot (omega 3, ginseng, etc, etc etc) which are crucial to fighting over metabolic diseases caused by lack of exercise and mainly a terrible diet

  6. How can they miss THE BIG ONE? 1000 IU of vitamin D will literally cut your risk of getting cancer in half. That of course is most especially if you don't get a lot of sun, like if you're usually indoors or if you live in the PNW where it's so often cloudy and then not warm enough to want to sun tan much of the summer. (Or if you use sun tan lotion and don't get any healthy sunlight even when outside.) Almonds and pine nuts are also reputed to be especially valuable for that too, as they have good proportions of very digestible iron and phosphorus.

  7. More recent studies on metformin suggest it can probably prolong life span significantly. Want to live to 120? Nothing else so far is suggesting it can do that for you. Good luck getting any of this old, cheap and (especially in a "one 500mg pill a day" dose) harmless medicine which has no sensible reason to be "by prescription only" unless you know someone with diabetes. It's going to be very hard to find out if it's effective or not when no healthy person is permitted to get it.

  8. Phenibut for sleep and anxiety, and kratom for pain. Both are slightly addictive, but the benefits outweigh the risks.

  9. 4:44 Tracy Morgan says "Someone gonna git pregnant!!" Get some folic acid!๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿฆฒ

  10. Just a warning that creatine can have bad side effects. I have stomach aches and skin flushes when I taken the minimum dose

  11. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 has deregulated the industry, so there is no safety or purity checked on supplements, as such contents of these supplements are unknown and adulteration is a huge concern.

  12. Raw beet….ugh. Found out I'm one of those sensitive to it…it burns the hell out of your throat, painful as hell for 24 hours!

  13. I would be cautious of creatine. It added quite a bit of water weight and made my body look โ€œfullerโ€ but if you care about hair loss Iโ€™d avoid it. I started shedding like crazy on 5g/day and itโ€™s still continued over a week after quitting. Iโ€™ve read that it was most likely a myth and only one (rather poor) study confirmed this. After reading it was most likely fine and possibly only bad if you carry the male pattern baldness gene. Well Iโ€™m not sure if I carry that but the hair loss occurred very fast and unlike what youโ€™d expect in regular male pattern baldness, generally very slow and youโ€™ve lost half of it before youโ€™ve even noticed. If you take it I would just monitor that and stick with low amounts. Otherwise if you eat meat then just get your creatine that way.

    Iโ€™d also avoid melatonin if you have depression. Iโ€™ve been using it for a decade and it causes some serious depression and inability to get anything productive done the next day. Yet I continued to take it from a very young age to now because I canโ€™t stand those 5am nights.

  14. I don'T know but according to some people, our food contains so much less vitamins and minerals, that one cabbage in 1800 probably had the same amount of 10 cabbage today. So to say that ONLY people with deficiency in vit and min should take them is a little …light? What about saying how much a normal adult person should have? And realizing that most of us eat fast food instead of 'green foliage' and vegetables? Let's get real here. Most people don't even have that once a week!!! At least i have a lot of friends here in canada who don't! So what is left to them is to buy vitamins and minerals and take some. I know it is not the best source of vitamins but in our crazy life, with all that crazy food we eat, i think that it is finally not so bad a solution…

  15. Creatine? not even in the top 20, what a total joke, Conclusion after watching this… Ignore these ass hats who call themselves Scientists, they got their degree's via Mommy paid off the dean of the college, or listen to them and Die Young!

  16. I live in Canada.
    I'm using 5htp with valerian and St.Johns Wort to snuff out an anxiety disorder that turned me into a raving lunatic….took 5 days off this 'unproven' pill. Bad fxxkin idea boy. We'll say, I won't be taking a break off it for at least a year.

    Jello! Who does'nt like Jello! Tell me the difference between the amino's in Jello and any 'new' and 'amazing' source of Collagen and I'll ask why my joints stopped aching when I added it to daily diet.

    Stretching! Stretching hurts. Again, I live in Canada. The only thing that works for pain and injury here, if you have no benefits is pain pills.
    If I'd taken local health advice on how to treat and prevent sport injury I would be a cripple.

    Learn your body, cultivate awareness, and fon't be an idiot theres no such thing as magic.

  17. Iโ€™m so anemic all the time that my doctor told me she genuinely didnโ€™t think it was possible for me to od on iron lol. I eat primarily meat, but she also told me to take double doses of iron or more and honestly that has always scared me, but 2 years in and Iโ€™m still not at a normal hemoglobin count… I wonder why they never mentioned Folic Acid tho :/

  18. Omega 3 fish oil and magnesium are 2 big ones that will likely benefit every person. Definitely omega 3. Good for SO many things, unless you eat a big piece of fish every other day.

  19. Evidence-based medicine? Thereโ€™s also overwhelming evidence that only women, or females, can get pregnant. Who wants health advice from a source that says โ€œpregnant peopleโ€? They deny science with PC language when it suits them.

  20. I always have vitamin D insufficiency and it's really hard to obtain it from food, therefore I need vitamin D supplements, specially during winter times

  21. Was there any particular reason during the folic acid section and the St. John's Wart section, you repeatedly say "pregnant people" or "pregnant parent", like it offends you to say "women"?

  22. Iโ€™m not against the use of supplements or holistic medicine as long as it is used in conjunction with modern medicine (coughcouchVACCINEScoughcough) and at the discretion of a personโ€™s care team. In fact, having a treatment plan that consists of both modern and holistic medicine has helped my health reach a new level of stability! โค๏ธ

    I took folic acid when I was taking methotrexate (a nasty old cancer drug) often used now to treat rheumatoid arthritis (although apparently I donโ€™t actually have RA… now my docs think itโ€™s hEDS but not officially diagnosed yet). Without the right dose of folic acid while taking methotrexate, I would get many super nasty canker sores and lose a surprising amount of hair.

    I currently take N Acetal Choline (not sure I spelled that right) ๐Ÿ˜… which has been shown to aid in reducing compulsive behaviors (I suffer with hair pulling and skin picking).

  23. Iโ€™m sorry, but most doctors Iโ€™ve encountered push the idea of taking pills, etc. and have NEVER told me or most of the people I know to change their diet… I donโ€™t trust most doctors – not all…

  24. If anyone is taking supplements please ensure the following..
    Is it GMO and petroleum free
    Is it from the human food chain
    Is it good for you.
    Does it have a seal of approval.

  25. There's a few animal studies linking exogenous melotonin to testicular atrophy. Also, I heard CoQ10, chelated magnesium, and choline are useful at doses with negligible side effects. Also also, vitamin K2 can help mitigate the risk of the potentially lethal side effects of hypercalcemia resulting from large doses of exogenous vitamin D3 over time, which has been shown to increase the activity of sex hormones like testosterone.

  26. Why don't scientists focus on genotypes when studying effectiveness? Seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater is a heightened risk of poorly controlled trials.

  27. Up north in Canada, vitamin D is really important, especially in the winter when we only get a few hours of sunlight (or none at all, if you live far enough north)

  28. I hate when they day ask your Doctor. Doctors don't care and on top of that your copay or if you don't have insurance is a lot of money just ask your doctor. How stupid .

  29. These supplements were being used long before they were proven to do good. So why are you bashing all the other supplements just because science hasn't caught up yet?

    There's lots of studies about a lot of supplements being beneficial, just not 100% conclusive yet. And people can't get everything from their diet nowadays. I mean… Modern vegetables, meat and other products do not have the same nutritional value as those before the industrial age.

    And just to prove my point, you add melatonin to the list, commenting that there have been extensive studies but weak evidence. So you're just listing supplements that have a million studies behind them and that's it. Do some research, SciShow, and learn about other supplements.
    Thank god for modern science proving that St. John's Wart does something. We would've looked so stupid as humans, for using it since ancient times if it was useless. (there's a whole range of other supplements used since ancient times and it's the same idea… we don't need to wait for science to tell us they're good. Science is too slow.)

  30. A NutriGenetic Research functional genetics (enzyme/DNA) test is a targeted personalized approach to knowing yourself and which supplements to take, the science of N=1. ChiroWellnessME.com

  31. Give a presentation on prescription drug failure & deadly side effects. Then, have a PHILOSOPHER speak about the epistemology of science so that listeners can better detect bias.

  32. When I took creatine it made my body hold water. Especailly my legs. It took about a week after quiting the creatine to be normal again.

  33. News flash, genius, there are MANY more than just 6 supplements ( proven in multiple double blind studies ) that will help people….I am surprised that you chose St. Johns Wort instead of something such as Vitamin D

  34. Creatine, fish oil, b complex, c, magnesium, enzymes, probiotics, d3, flax oil, cordyceps, lions mane… All things worth taking. Also eating a salad every day is something my body responds very well to.

  35. calcium disodium ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA)- in this metal rich polluted world, specially for those that eat salt water fish, this stuff can save your life.

  36. Since you're not a doctor then you shouldn't be dispensing advice on what to take? lol…just kidding. Unfortunately, not all doctors know what they're talking about like functional medical doctors DO! Allopathic/conventional doctors traditionally only get 36 hours of nutrition in medical school and are only now beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to vitamins/minerals/supplements! People need to learn to listen to their bodies and self-educate themselves on vitamins/minerals/supplements and see what works best for them, of course without o-d-ing on them! I have a mild form of MS and have found that taking garlic and Vit. C gets me out of a relapse real fast, minus any lethal prescription drugs which are more costly than most herbal supplements and vitamins/minerals. I've had a known vitamin deficiency of Vit. D3 which most people with MS have along with a B complex deficiency so we need to take that as well along with all the other much needed vitamins and minerals! Getting them from food/mostly organic foods are best but there are many antagonists to vitamins/minerals such as artificial lighting, cooking and birth control pills etc. "Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food"…Hippocrates, the founding father of ancient medicine who also recommended those now famous apple cider vinegar drinks! Thanks for sharing…"knowledge is power"~ Hippocrates also said one day we'll all be are own physicians…FACTS! That time has come, imho. p.s. Melatonin with valerian root worked fantastic for me after 20 years of insomnia.. 3 mg a night is not overdosing since Melatonin depletes as we age…fact.

  37. I take a multivitamin, B-Complex, and Calcium-Magnesium-Zinc and sometimes take Iron and/or D3 (particularly in winter). I've taken melatonin before too. I live in my car and don't have a great diet, so I try to at least supplement with vitamins.

  38. Vitamin D3 for all those in northern climates where we donโ€™t get as much sun so we are more susceptible to depression among other health issues

  39. Try 1 teaspoon of Glutamine powder ($10 @ Walmart) in water every morning and evening.
    From curing stomach & bowel issues to clearing your complexion. The benefits are many.
    Research it, you won't be disappointed! #GlutamineBenefits

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