Improve your health by learning
Wellness Blog
< Go back

Do Health Supplements Even Work?

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
March 31, 2024
March 31, 2024

Ever find yourself scrolling through social media, bombarded with ads promising the fountain of youth in a pill or the secret to boundless energy in a bottle? Yeah, we've all been there. But do these supplements really live up to the hype? In this article, we'll unravel the mysteries behind collagen, electrolytes, sleep aids, memory boosters, and the vitamins and mineral supplements we're told we can't live without.

1. Do Collagen Supplements Work?

There is some evidence to suggest that collagen supplements may have certain benefits when taken orally. Collagen is a protein that is found in the skin, bones, and connective tissues of the body, and it is an important structural component that helps to maintain the strength and integrity of these tissues. Some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may help to:

  • Improve skin health
  • Reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
  • Support the healing of wounds and injuries

However, it's important to note that the evidence for the effectiveness of collagen supplements is mixed and more research is needed to fully understand their potential benefits. Some studies have found that collagen supplements may be effective, while others have not. In addition, the body's ability to absorb and use collagen from oral supplements is not well understood and may vary from person to person.

2. Do Electrolyte Supplements Work?

Electrolyte supplements are commonly used to help replace minerals that are lost through sweat, diarrhea, or other forms of fluid loss. These minerals, which include sodium, potassium, and chloride, are essential for maintaining proper hydration and electrolyte balance in the body. Some people may benefit from electrolyte supplements, particularly if they are engaging in activities that cause them to sweat heavily or lose fluids, or if they have certain medical conditions that affect their electrolyte balance.

Electrolyte imbalances, however, can also be caused by underlying medical conditions, such as kidney disease or hormonal imbalances, and may require medical treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance, such as muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, or heart palpitations, speak with a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. They can help determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend the most appropriate course of action, which may or may not include electrolyte supplements.

3. Should I Take A Supplement For Sleep?

Here are a few examples of supplements that have been studied for their potential effects on sleep:

  1. Melatonin: This hormone is naturally produced by the body and plays a role in regulating sleep-wake cycles. Some people find that taking melatonin supplements can help them fall asleep more easily. However, the optimal dose can vary from person to person, and taking too much melatonin can have negative side effects.
  2. Valerian root: This herb has been used as a natural sleep aid for centuries. Some studies have found that valerian root may improve sleep quality, but the evidence is mixed.
  3. Chamomile: Chamomile tea is a popular choice for people who want to relax and wind down before bed. Some research suggests that chamomile may have mild sedative effects and may help with sleep.
  4. L-theanine: This amino acid is found in tea leaves and has been shown to have a calming effect. Some people find that taking L-theanine supplements can help them relax and sleep better.
  5. Magnesium: This mineral is involved in a wide range of processes in the body, including muscle function and the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in sleep. Some research suggests that magnesium supplements may help improve sleep quality.

There is some evidence that certain supplements may be helpful for improving sleep, but it is important to note that they may not work for everyone and may have potential side effects.

4. What About Supplements For Thinking and Memory?

There are several supplements that are sometimes marketed as a way to improve thinking and memory, but the evidence for their effectiveness is mixed. Here are a few examples:

  1. Ginkgo biloba: This herb is derived from the leaves of the ginkgo tree and is sometimes used to improve memory and cognitive function. However, the evidence for its effectiveness is mixed, and some studies have found that it is no more effective than a placebo.
  2. Bacopa monnieri: This herb is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve memory and cognitive function. Some studies have found that bacopa monnieri may have a positive effect on memory, but the evidence is mixed.
  3. Phosphatidylserine: This chemical is found in cell membranes and is sometimes taken as a supplement to improve cognitive function. Some research suggests that phosphatidylserine may have a positive effect on memory and cognitive function in older adults, but the evidence is mixed.

It's also worth noting that there is no "quick fix" for improving thinking and memory. A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, thought-provoking activities and new experiences, and stress management, are still the best ways to support cognitive health.

5. Are Vitamin or Mineral Supplements Needed?

In general, it is best to obtain vitamins and minerals through a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. However, in some cases, vitamin or mineral supplements may be necessary.

For example, certain groups of people may be at a higher risk of deficiency in certain nutrients and may benefit from supplements. These groups can include:

  • Pregnant women: Pregnant women may need additional folic acid, iron, and calcium to support the needs of the growing fetus.
  • Older adults: As people age, their ability to absorb certain nutrients from food may decline, so they may benefit from supplements.
  • Vegetarians and vegans: People who do not eat animal products may be at risk of deficiencies in nutrients like vitamin B12, and may need to take supplements.
  • People with certain medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and cystic fibrosis, can interfere with the body's ability to absorb nutrients. These individuals may need to take supplements to ensure that they are getting enough.

Most vitamin supplements are not necessary if you are eating well, natural, and balanced. However notable is the increasing need for people to supplement with Vitamin D, especially as we spend more and more time indoors. Before starting a supplement, check with your provider, and if possible, get a lab test to see if you really need it.


It's important to note that supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same way that medications are, so it's important to be cautious when using them. Ultimately, whether or not supplements are effective may depend on the specific product and the individual taking it. If you are considering taking a supplement, it is a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to determine whether it may be a suitable option for you. They can help you understand the potential risks and benefits and provide guidance on the appropriate dosage and duration of use.

We're here to support you.

Contact our call center at 1-866-899-3998. Mon-Fri, 6AM-5PM PST