Dietary Supplements – Hype or Hope?




Dietary Supplements

by Dr. Chris Mohr, PhD, RD


There are over 29,000 dietary supplements available.


From creatine to fat burners, whey protein to weight gain formulas. 
     What works?
     What doesn’t?
     Do you need a supplement to perform at your best?


While giving a talk recently to high school football players, I asked the team this question:


How many of you take dietary supplements?


About 95% of the athletes raised their hands.


I then asked this follow up question.


How many of you ate breakfast this morning?


3 hands out of the entire team went up. 


There is a big disconnect there.  Why is virtually the entire team taking a supplement(s) but not eating the absolute most critical meal of the entire day?


Dietary supplements are exactly as their name implies; supplements to the diet.


It’s important to remember, though, without a strong foundation of the right fuel for your body (from real food), supplements cannot make up for deficiencies.  With that said, a basic multivitamin is a smart idea.  It’s not there to replace nutrients from a diet filled with empty calories and loaded with sugar.  A basic multivitamin is instead there to complement a solid nutrition program. 


When trying to decide if another supplement will enhance your performance, consider these tips and strategies first.

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it is!
  2. Are any of the ingredients banned by a governing body or sporting organization (e.g., NCAA, IOC, etc).
  3. Is every other single aspect of your training optimal (nutrition, strength, clothing, etc). 
  4. Is the product for your particular sport?  A supplement that is supposed to increase power would not be warranted for a cross country runner, for example.


Always turn to an unbiased, quality source to assess the particular supplement.  Ads in magazines or on TV do not qualify as unbiased sources. 


Real food is fuel – without the right “diet” performance will always suffer, regardless of whatever supplement you may take.  And the right training, optimal rest, and play are necessary as well.  Stick to the basics and you can perform at your best.  A simple multivitamin is a smart complement, but shy away from performance supplements that are consistently overhyped and full of empty promises.


– Dr. Chris Mohr


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7 Responses

  1. This article is completely true. Supplements are supposed to ‘supplement’ your diet, not replace it.

    Your natural diet should be focused on before thinking about any type of performance supplements. When everything else is in place, supplements can help. But if you don’t focus on your nutrition and training, then supplements are a waste.

    I like to think of sport and performance supplements as the icing on the cake, nothing more.

  2. Dr. Kwame M. Brown says:

    This is yet another example of the destruction of the youth sports / play experience through our retreat into articles and habits of convenience. Our specialists should recognize that it is this same mode of thinking that produces the 6 week vertical leap programs. The root is this “need for speed”, not on the field but in our lives.

  3. dave says:

    Hey Brian another great post!

    Sorry to jump topics but i wanted to know as i read in a past post i am all signed up for the summit in feb. but i am not yet certified and you had mentioned that you would have an announcment about a way we could get cert while in lou. i wanted to see if that is still going to be ab option and make sure before i book my flight that i am either there early enough or set to leave late enough!

    Excited and thanks


  4. Brian Grasso says:

    Hi Dave! We’re doing a Youth Speed & Agility Specialist Level 2 one-day event with Lee Taft on Sunday February 14. That is the ‘special certification’ we’re offering at the Summit. Be well! BG

  5. Liz Donnelly says:

    Chris, you bring up an excellent point here, especially that people are so inclined to the quick fixes just to squeeze out a little more time in the preparation department. This is definitely a cultural problem that will take a lot of education to change.

    I have been a fan of vitamins for many years myself but recently researched various supplements and find that quality whole foods greens supplements to be among the best as they leave no residue in the intestinal tract and provide the most bioavailable phytonutrition. There is one in particular that is the world’s most clinically researched (15 years and counting) that appeals to me and that I recommend to my families.

    Does Prograde have third-party research to support it? I certainly don’t mean to come across anything other than curious. We are all in this effort together to improve the lives of the families we touch and I want to be open and aware of what’s available to me as a professional.

    Thank you for the wonderful post!!


  6. Dr. Kwame M Brown says:


    Great point! Build the foundation to support the structure, not the structure and try to fill in the foundation. We have gone so far away from the basics of play, proper nutrition, and learning for kids. Let’s get back to basics…

  7. Chris,

    Great post. I completely understand the point, and absolutely agree 100%.

    There can be another issue as well, regarding the quality of the nutrition that children and adults are receiving if they have been fortunate enough to have a proper diet. Until the food the majority of people in North America are purchasing are grown ethically and properly, they could be robbed of the nutrition they think they are giving themselves.

    I do not push supplementation to my patients, but do include it in my family’s diet(including my 4 year old son.) We use a whole food vitamin that we know the body will be absorbing, as well as organic fish oil for vitamin D and omega’s. So I am also agreeing with Liz’s post.

    The reason I bring this up, that if people are going to eat right, I want them to get the nutrition they should be. This can be relatively guaranteed by buying local, organic foods.

    If people choose to supplement, I want their bodies to absorb the vitamins and minerals they are paying all that money for…and unfortunately more synthetic vitamins get washed away. The vitamins I use are Dr. Ron’s Ultrapure, as he has based the formulas around his understand of Dr. Weston A Price.

    Keep up the great work.

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