Do I need supplements?

By Joel Paniagua Soto, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis

The market for supplements has boomed immensely in the last 30 years. You see advertisements for nutritional supplements everywhere, especially on social media! The dietary supplement industry is a $132 billion market and is expected to double in the next six years! This brings me to the topic of our blog today, does anyone even need to take supplements?

What is a supplement?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a supplement “includes such ingredients as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and enzymes. Dietary supplements are marketed in forms such as tablets, capsules, soft gels, gel caps, powders, and liquids.”

Supplements can be helpful, but this is very subjective. Supplements can help individuals who lack vital substances or who suffer from some sort of disease. But, on the other hand, they can be dangerous if not taken carefully or you simply don’t know what you are taking. Every case is different and for that reason it is recommended that you seek professional help from a physician before taking a supplement. Supplement products are not regulated either before, or while, they are on the market. Claims about a supplements safety, effectiveness or ingredients are not verified by anyone. The only time the FDA will ban a supplement is when the manufacture of a product notifies them that it poses risk for some reason. This might be something to consider when buying supplements. Do your research first and ask your physician to be safe.

Some common supplements include: multivitamins, fish oil, vitamin D, calcium, whey protein, BCAA’s, creatine, and many more! Here at UC Davis, Campus Recreation, we have developed a supplement policy to help students make informed decisions. Some sport activities call for major supplement use which is why Fit-Well at UC Davis has developed a policy coinciding with the NCAA regulations. This policy highlights which supplements are recommended and which are not. This way, people do not simply take a supplement because their friend told them or they saw it online somewhere. Always seek advice from a registered dietitian or physician if you are in doubt.



Everyone wants that magic pill that contains all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals we need. But the truth of the matter is, we can get most (if not all) nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from food! Having a variety of whole foods is key and choosing nutrient dense foods will make getting the proper nutrients easier. Now, not to say that ALL supplements are bad, but a healthier approach would be to follow an individualized diet plan, then supplement only if you need to. That magic pill has been in front of us this whole time, we’ve just been avoiding it!


Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Information for Consumers – Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,

Anotis. “20 Facts About the Supplement Industry That Will Horrify You.” Best Life, Best Life, 15 Oct. 2018,


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