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Top Supplement Myths Busted

You want to add some supplements to your nutrition routine, but you're not sure where to start...or what to take...or which ones actually work.

Don't sweat it--we're here to clear up some of the most common supplement myths.

Myth #1: It can’t hurt to take a multivitamin.

In theory, yes—multivitamins can provide well-rounded nutrition to keep you healthy. But reality isn’t as cut-and-dry: there’s no “one size fits all” multivitamin. What works for one person may not work for another, and depending on your health, it could even prove harmful.

We’re not saying multivitamins are unhealthy—far from it! But you should always talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, and be sure to check exactly what’s in a multivitamin before you add it to your cart; it may contain ingredients that interact with medication you’re taking, or that could worsen an existing medical condition. Multivitamins aren’t bad guys—just be smart about what you’re taking.

Myth #2: If you take supplements, you don’t need to work out—the supplements will naturally improve your physique.

Sorry about this, folks, but there’s no way around it—if you want a Baywatch body, you have to work for it. No diet pill will transform you into Arnold overnight (and any company that promises as much is blowing smoke). Supplements should, as the name implies, supplement a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, not replace it. They can help you reach your goals and improve your overall health, but if you down your creatine and then devour an entire pizza, the only change you’re going to see is a lot of indigestion.

Myth #3: You don’t need to take vitamin D if you live in a sunny climate.

Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies synthesize it from the sun. So theoretically, unless you’re living in northern, cloudy climates or you’re, you know…a vampire…you should be fine, right?

Not necessarily. Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutritional ailments in the world, and it’s a potentially serious one—low levels have been shown to weaken the immune system, your bones, and your heart, not to mention potentially contributing to chronic depression, anxiety, and fatigue. As more of us adapt to office jobs and slather on sunscreen, we’re getting less and less vitamin D, making supplementation crucial.

So office-dwellers, night shift-workers--and, yes, all you vampires reading this-- don’t skimp on the vitamin D.

Myth #4: Creatine will make you gain weight.

Not true—but it can make some people retain water.

Creatine is a substance found naturally in muscles that gives you serious energy, making it the go-to supplement for fitness junkies and bodybuilders. As part of a healthy diet, it can be an important asset in your training plan. But remember: all bodies are different, and creatine doesn’t agree with some people because it can cause bloating due to water retention. If you know you’re prone to bloating or digestive issues, try creatine ethyl ester—it helps reduce these side effects.

Myth #5: Creatine causes kidney damage.

False—creatine is one of the most extensively-studied supplements available, and research has repeatedly proven that it’s safe to use. If your kidneys are healthy and you stick to the recommended dosage, you should be fine.

Myth #6: If you’re a woman and you take “workout” supplements, you’ll get too bulky.

Of all the fitness myths we’ve heard, this is one of the most ridiculous. Whey protein is not going to make you look like a linebacker overnight, creatine will not make you grow a lumberjack beard, and BCAAs aren’t going to magically turn you into the Hulk.

And even if your goal is to look like She Hulk, it’s going to take some hard work and disciplined nutrition to get there. Massive muscles don’t happen overnight. Taking supplements and lifting weights won’t make you bulky—they’ll build muscle, which actually burns more fat over time.

So ladies, don’t be afraid to hit that weight rack—it improves strength, lean muscle, and overall body composition.

Myth #7: Baking with protein powder denatures it.

It’s impossible to cook, fry, stew, or bake the protein out of anything (unless you completely burn it to a crisp, in which case it’s probably best not to eat it, anyway). So never fear! You can bake your protein pancakes without worrying about losing those gains.

Myth #8: Endurance athletes don’t need protein because it will make them too muscular.

Endurance athletes break down muscle over prolonged periods of time, and that sort of effort absolutely demands protein; without it, you won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning, let alone run a marathon. It’s critically important to nourish your muscles with protein after a tough training session—it won’t make you “too muscular;” it will keep you healthy and ready to conquer your next race.

Myth #9: Herbal extracts should always dissolve in water.

Herbal extracts are made from plants, which generally don’t dissolve in water in their natural state. Unless they include added ingredients like hydrochloric acid (HCL), herbal extract powders won’t completely dissolve in liquids. If you’re not a fan of the plant particles, we recommend mixing herbal powders into a smoothie to disguise the texture.

Myth #10: It doesn’t matter when I take my supplements, or what I take them with.

In some cases, this is true, but not always. Timing matters with certain supplements—B vitamins, for example, give you energy, so it’s best to take them in the morning, while vitamin D can make you sleepy, so it’s best to take it before bed. The same goes for magnesium and herbs like Valerian root—they calm you down and could make you feel drowsy, making them perfect for nighttime but less than ideal for a morning pick-me-up.

Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) also work more efficiently when you take them with healthy fats, like yogurt, peanut butter, or avocado.

Again, always talk to your doctor before you start taking supplements to ensure  they don’t interact with your medications or any pre-existing medical conditions.

Myth #11: You can’t have caffeine when you’re taking supplements.

Not exactly—you should monitor your caffeine intake, as too much caffeine has been shown to interfere with the absorption of some vitamins and minerals (especially calcium). But you don’t need to cut it out altogether. The FDA recommends consuming less than 400 mg of caffeine per day—as long as you stick to those guidelines, you should be fine.

Myth #12: Whey protein causes kidney damage.

Excessive protein consumption has been shown to cause kidney damage and kidney stones, but we’re talking extremely excessive. As long as you don’t overdo it and stick to the dosage on the label, you can rest easy and drink your whey protein shake in peace—your kidneys will be fine. Be sure to drink plenty of water with your whey, especially if you’re entering a bulking period.

Got more supplement questions or myths you want us to bust? Drop us a line on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

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