6 min

True or false ? 8 misconceptions about food supplements

Food deficits are more relevant than ever. According to a WHO study on micronutrient deficiencies , 40% of the world's population is deficient in iron, and 20% in zinc, to name just two examples.

How to cure it ?

In addition to a healthy and balanced diet, food supplements constitute a reliable and effective solution to fill these gaps. But they don't always get a good press, and there are many beliefs, valid or not, about them.

We sort out the truth from the falsehood in these top 8 misconceptions about food supplements.

Received idea n°1: food supplements are useless if you have a varied and balanced diet

👉 FALSE ❌ (in practice)

In theory, this could be true by paying extreme attention to one's diet; but in reality, we do not consume enough fruits and vegetables, sometimes fish and meat as well. And still: the products we consume are often highly processed, and thus emptied of a large part of their nutrients and minerals.

Some essential nutrients are quite difficult to find in food, such as omega 3, present in fatty fish for example.

In short, even a balanced diet (or what we believe to be!) does not invalidate the benefit of food supplements.

Misconception #2: They are not regulated


Although food supplements are not medicines (another common misconception!), this does not mean that anyone can sell them by putting anything in them. They are considered by French legislation as foodstuffs, and must therefore meet the corresponding legal obligations.

This concerns in particular the composition of food supplements, the list of vitamins, minerals, plants, etc. of which is defined by law. This composition must also be reproduced in full on the supplement label.

Misconception #3: They are not effective


The effectiveness of food supplements has been proven by numerous studies and organizations, whether to fill nutritional deficits, limit deficiencies linked to poor diet, or help certain categories of people.

The benefit of a food supplement can only be argued to the consumer if the effectiveness of its substances has been recognized and scientifically tested by the EFSA (the European Food Safety Authority). ANSES (the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety) has also recognized the usefulness of food supplements for people with deficiencies.

Misconception #4: They are only designed for athletes


This is a cliché that dies hard! While it is true that some athletes, particularly bodybuilding enthusiasts, make recurring use of food supplements to, for example, gain muscle mass and maintain a high level of energy, supplementation can serve many other purposes. .

For example, there are supplements to reduce stress and promote sleep , supplements to take care of your skin, nails and hair , or even to maintain immunity . Food supplements for sports and bodybuilding actually represent only part of the nutraceutical market.

Received idea n°5: they are necessarily necessary for us at some point in our lives

👉 TRUE ✅

Several specific stages of life have an impact on our body, and therefore make taking food supplements particularly useful. This is for example the case during adolescence, which requires an additional intake of calcium for example. But the deficiencies are also more pronounced for women and pregnant women whose needs are increased, or the elderly, who may lack calcium and vitamins B1 and B12.

If you are vegan for example, a vitamin B12 supplement (which is only found naturally in animals) may also be essential!

Misconception #6: They are dangerous


As we have seen, food supplements are both effective and highly regulated. Several control organizations draw up regular reports on cases of problems linked to supplements, which are extremely rare compared to the volume of sales.

Of course, food supplements are provided with instructions and a precise dosage to follow. Respecting them is obviously an essential condition to ensure risk-free consumption.

Misconception n°7: they must be consumed on an empty stomach

👉 TRUE ✅ and FALSE ❌

There is no immutable rule on this point. The methods of consumption of supplements vary from one product to another, depending on their roles and their compositions.

For example, charcoal or probiotics should be taken on an empty stomach, while vitamins should be taken with meals. It is therefore important, once again, to carefully follow the prescriptions for each food supplement.

Received idea n°8: a medical prescription is necessary to consume it

👉 FALSE ❌ but…'s even better if your doctor advises you. Food supplements are not medicines, and are therefore freely available, without requiring any prescription. That said, your doctor, through his privileged relationship with you, knows your specificities very well and will therefore be a perfect contact to advise you on this or that dietary supplement, according to your needs.

It is also becoming more and more common for doctors to prescribe food supplements.

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