The Truth about Popular Supplement Ingredients

by John Esposito
various supplements like Progentra

Dietary supplements are popular for people who want to accelerate metabolism, boost athletic performance, and enhance your sex life. However, since the supplement market is highly under- regulated in the United States, many of the ingredients in dietary supplements are not as safe or as helpful as the labels might claim. According to the most recent research, many common ingredients in supplements may not be worth the hype, but other common ingredients do have the potential to help you out.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant present in soybeans, corn, margarine, wheat, and sunflower seeds. It is important for stabilizing unstable chemicals that might be present in your body. These unstable compounds are usually oxygen-based compounds that became unstable due to losing an electron after some sort of metabolic shift. This metabolic shift is known as oxidative stress and it can occur when you exercise or if you have certain metabolic health concerns like obesity. These unstable oxygen-based compounds are called free radicals and they often try to regain an electron in order to become stable again. Unfortunately, they sometimes take an electron from important cell components. When these important cell components lose an electron to a free radical, your cell can then become unstable and it can face longer term damage.

Vitamin E supplement capsule taken by a sexual enhancement userEventually, too many free radicals can cause a number of health concerns, which is why antioxidants like vitamin E are crucial to maintaining good health because they can help stabilize free radicals without destabilizing any of the cells in your body. In supplement form, studies show that vitamin E can reduce oxidative stress as long as you take higher doses of it. Since oxidative stress is associated with an extremely various problems, it is possible that vitamin E is a good ingredient for supplements.

There are still many negative side effects of vitamin E and it may not be as effective as vitamins including C and D. However, it can still help you manage various health concerns, especially if certain medical conditions have caused you to experience symptoms of vitamin E deficiency. Vitamin E deficiency can cause nerve damage, muscle damage, eye damage, immune system problems, and issues with your red blood cells. Therefore, you definitely want to make sure you have enough vitamin E.


Studies on caffeine are completely inconclusive about whether caffeine can be an effective dietary supplement. Caffeine in an addictive neurostimulant that is most commonly found in coffee and it is often used to help people combat fatigue. Therefore, it is a common ingredient in supplements that claim to help you manage fatigue, give you energy spikes, increase coordination, increase reaction time, and promote better concentration.

Some supplements claim the caffeine can help with learning and memory, but studies show that, about half the time, it actually gives you some difficulty with learning and memory. Caffeine is also present in supplements that supposedly boost your metabolism. Research does support that caffeine can help your metabolism and give your workout a boost. However, the studies suggest that, overtime, it starts to lose some of its effects. Even if it loses its effects, caffeine can still rarely hurt you, but you definitely want to avoid consuming too much of it.

Unfortunately, supplements usually contain pure caffeine powder, which can provide you with dangerously high doses. When you ingest too much caffeine, addiction becomes the least of your worries. Overdose can cause irritability, restlessness, insomnia, headaches, palpitations, anxiety, disorientation, and psychosis. You can also experience muscle and digestive problems. Since caffeine overdose is more likely if you are ingesting caffeine in supplement form, you definitely want to be careful. However, as long as you are sticking to healthy doses, caffeine can potentially provide you with many important health benefits.


DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone is considered a prohormone that comes from wild sweet potatoes or from soybeans. Your adrenal gland can also produce DHEA and its role in your body is to act as a precursor to testosterone. When you need testosterone, your body can convert DHEA into testosterone, but when you need less testosterone, your body might even be able to convert DHEA into estrogen to counteract the effects of testosterone.

DHEA dehydroepiandrosterone chemical structureSince a good testosterone balance can provide your body with a number of important health benefits, supplements that contain DHEA claim it can treat a number of diseases, promote adrenal gland health, help you lose weight, give your immune system a boost, reverse some effects of aging, give you a lot of energy, make you happier, improve your memory, increase your muscle mass, increase your sex drive, and treat erectile dysfunction.

However, research shows DHEA supplements cannot actually do anything for you except possibly improve your mood and treat depression. Since depression can cause a number of problems, DHEA supplements might help a little bit with other problems, but only if those other problems are caused by or exacerbated by depression. Additionally, the evidence that DHEA supplements can help with depression is extremely preliminary and more research is necessary before scientists are sure it can improve your mood.

Moreover, DHEA supplements can cause many adverse side effects, including skin problems, hair loss, upset stomach, high blood pressure, fatigue, nasal congestion, headache, irregular heartbeat, rapid heart rate, insomnia, and cholesterol problems. Therefore, while DHEA is definitely an important compound in your body, taking it in supplement form may not be as effective as getting it from your diet.

The reality is most of the effective ingredients found in dietary supplements can also be found in healthy foods, but there is still very little harm from take certain supplements as long as you are careful about regulating your doses. However, other supplements contain very dangerous ingredients that do very little for you and you should probably stay away from them. If you concerned about certain ingredients, you can feel free to consult a healthcare professional about what types of dietary supplements can actually be effective for you.

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