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Nutritional Supplements

Browsing through any supermarket these days, you are

likely to find an abundance of pre-packaged, portable

energy bars and drinks that claim to do everything

from helping you lose weight to lowering your

cholesterol and blood pressure. There are protein

powders to boost your energy, shake mixes that

provide nutrition without the fat content, and of

course there are vitamin supplements. And what about

the dietary supplements?

If you feel confused, you are not alone. How do you

select the best product for your needs? Which ones

are safe and healthy and which ones might be

detrimental to your health?

First, check with your doctor to find out if you actually

need any nutritional supplements and if so, which

might be the best for you. Carefully research the

supplements you are considering. We hope some of

the important factors and tips that we've listed here

will help to inform your choice and make your decision

a little easier.

Energy Bars and Drinks

For starters, it is helpful to understand that the terms

"Energy Bar" or "Energy Drink" simply mean a bar or

drink that contains calories. Anything that has calories

will give you energy. While many of these products do

contain a number of nutrients, they should never be a

complete replacement for food.

Your choices depend on whether you are looking for an

occasional meal replacement, a quick pick-me-up, or a

vitamin supplement to augment your vitamin and

mineral intake.

Meal Replacement

• Look for a product that has at least 15 grams of

protein, 3-5 grams of fiber and approximately 35

percent of the Required Daily Allowance (RDA) for

vitamins and minerals.

• Look for a product that is low in fat (less than 5-8

grams). Also look at the type of fat included. Try to

avoid saturated fats such as hydrogenated oils

(coconut oil or palm kernel oil) that clog your arteries

and can increase your risk for heart disease. Instead,

find products that are made with less saturated fat,

such as canola and vegetable oil.

• If you're watching your weight, check the calorie

content. Some products, such as Clif Bars® contain

about 240-250 calories, whereas Luna Bars® contain

only about 170-180 calories.

• Watch the sugar content. In order to improve taste

and sales some of these items contain as much sugar

as a typical candy bar. Avoid products that list sugar

as one of the main ingredients. High-fructose corn

syrup, maltodextrin and cane syrup are basically

names for sugar.

• Avoid using these products as a food replacement

too often. Although these items have many vitamins

and nutrients that are required everyday, they are

often missing some basic and essential ingredients

found in most foods. Instead of an energy bar for your

next snack, grab a container of yogurt or a bowl of


• As a general rule, you should always choose whole

natural foods over shakes and bars.

• Several powdered drink mixes, such as MET-Rx® and

Myoplex, are better for you than the shakes and bars.

This is because they are often very low in fat and they

are sweetened with Aspartame (which contains no

calories) instead of refined sugar.

Increase Energy

• If you want to increase your stamina during exercise,

look for a product that contains a lot of protein, such

as the Ironman PR bar, which is about 30 percent

protein, 40 percent carbohydrates, and 30 percent fat.

• Look for a product that contains between 30 and 50

grams of carbohydrates, the amount your body

generally requires for an hour of exercise.

• Avoid consuming energy bars or drinks too soon

before you work out or exercise. If you do, you may

experience problems digesting the food and suffer a

stomachache. Ideally, you should consume a high

carbohydrate energy supplement at least one hour

prior to exercise.

Vitamin Supplement

• Look for a product that contains approximately 35

percent of the RDA for vitamins and minerals. If you

consume multiple bars or beverages on a given day,

make sure you don't consume too many additional

vitamins from other sources.

Dietary Supplements

Before taking any supplement, it's a good idea to

speak with a health care provider or nutrition

specialist to discuss which supplements are right for

you. It's especially important to seek the advice of a

professional if you're taking other medications. Some

supplements, when taken in combination with other

medications, can create adverse reactions.

What is a Dietary Supplement?

A dietary supplement contains at least one FDA (U.S.

Food and Drug Administration) defined "dietary

ingredient" such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino

acids, enzymes, organ and glandular tissues,

metabolites, extracts or concentrates. These

supplements are sold in many different forms,

including pills, capsules and powders.


Dietary Supplements are not regulated by the FDA

This means that the different product brands may vary

in the amount of the active ingredient that they

contain. This also means that various claims can be

made about the products that are not backed by

studies or research proving that they are safe and

effective. If you're considering taking a dietary

supplement, it's very important that you check with

your doctor first.

Guidelines for Purchasing Supplements

• Natural does not always mean safe.

• Look for herbal supplements manufactured by

reputable and well-known companies.

• Be aware of the possible side effects of the

supplement. If you experience negative side effects,

stop taking the supplement immediately and contact

your doctor.

• Make sure you know how the supplement interacts

with other medicines, both prescription and over-the-

counter medications.

• Take the supplement as recommended. Do not take

more than the recommended dosage.

Some Controversial Dietary Supplements or



Ephedrine is a common ingredient found in many

dietary supplements used for weight loss. It has been

found to slightly decrease appetite, but no studies

have found it to be an effective weight loss

supplement. It can also be very dangerous, causing

high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, insomnia,

nervousness, tremors, seizures and heart attacks. It

may also be listed as Ma Huang, a natural form of


HCA (Hydroxycitric Acid)

HCA is a compound found in Garcinia cambogia, a type

of fruit. It inhibits a key enzyme responsible for

converting carbohydrates into fats and cholesterol. In

some animal studies, HCA has effectively reduced

appetites and decreased cholesterol. Currently, the

effectiveness of HCA for weight loss in humans

remains unclear.


Xenadrine in an herbal weight loss formula that

contains ephedra, a source of ephedrine. Some studies

have shown that it can reduce appetite and increase

fat burning. However, side effects include increased

nervousness, irritability, insomnia, muscle tremors,

increased blood pressure and heart rate. The FDA

reports that in severe cases, people can suffer heart

attacks and stroke.

Provided by ISL Consulting Co.