3 supplements that are, surprisingly, not a waste of money

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Whether it's vitamins, adaptogens, or herbs, we have all likely spent a significant amount of our money in the world of supplementation - all in the quest for better health.

In fact, according to market research firm Euromonitor, Singaporean consumers spent S$490 million on vitamins and supplements in 2017 alone. But, this is also an industry chock full of false claims and hype marketing, where it can be challenging to find supplements that deliver on their promises.

For those who are tired of wasting money on supplements, we've researched 3 supplements that actually have evidence-based merits.

COLLAGEN FOR HEALTHY SKIN

Collagen supplements have become very popular in recent years. From your collagen pills to collagen drinks, so many different collagen products have entered the market.

The reason for its popularity is the critical role that collagen plays in the health of your bones, joints, and skin. It's believed that consuming more collagen would help address the drop in natural collagen production as we age.

But is that just a hype?

DO COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS WORK?

One of the criticisms of dietary collagen is that of digestion: collagen is often broken down into its constituent amino acids and gets allocated to various processes in our bodies, instead of being dedicated to skin health.

However, as it turns out, a portion of peptides (short chains of amino acids)-in the case of hydrolyzed collagen-has been shown to enter the bloodstream entirely intact without being broken down into individual amino acid components. These intact peptides can then support functions related to skin support and repair.

A double-blind study published in 2015 indeed showed that consuming just 5 grams of bioactive collagen peptides daily demonstrated a statistically significant, positive effect on skin elasticity in healthy, non-smoking females aged 45-64 years old. Another 2019 systematic review on oral collagen supplementation supports the findings mentioned above in daily doses from 2.5-10 grams.

Collagen Products No. of tablets Daily no. of tablets Daily dose (mg) Price (SGD) Daily cost (SGD)
Natures Aid Collagen Beauty Formula 90 1 500 69.90 0.78
21st Century Elastin Collagen 50 2 1200 20.00 0.80
DHC Collagen 30 Days 180 6 2050 27.90 0.93
AFC Collagen Beauty 270 6 1560 43.30 0.96
AFC Collagen Beauty MCPEX 270 6 1380 43.30 0.96
GreenLife Advanced Collagen with Antioxidants 120 2 500 64.00 1.07
Ocean Health Skin Radiance with Collagen 60 1 250 81.00 1.35
Nature's Way Beauty Collagen Tablets 60 3 2500 29.90 1.50
Sato Hakubi Collagen Tablets 180 6 1500 49.90 1.66
Holistic Way Premium Skin Food Collagen 60 2 2886 69.00 2.30

VITAMIN D FOR CANCER PREVENTION

Vitamin D pills are yet another popular health supplement in Singapore. Its popularity among Singaporeans can be explained by the crucial role Vitamin D plays in the human body, such as maintaining healthy bones, supporting the immune system and regulating insulin levels.

It's believed that the consumption of vitamin D can help reduce risks of certain cancers.

Even though this particular vitamin is naturally produced by when skin is exposed to sun, vitamin D deficiency remains prevalent in Singapore. According to the National Health Survey in 2010, 40 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively, of Singaporeans were either deficient or very deficient for vitamin D. So, would the supplementation of vitamin D actually help prevent cancer?

DO VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS WORK?

There have been doubts cast on vitamin D supplements-most notably from a meta-analysis published in the journal The Lancet. The meta-analysis found that vitamin D supplementation had no effects on general vascular and skeletal health oron cancer prevention.

As a result of the findings above, main-stream media sources began circulating the sensationalized message that vitamin D 'confers no health benefits.' Unfortunately, these media reports have misrepresented vitamin D supplementation. It's worth taking note that many other studies have confirmed that vitamin D does confer notable risk reduction in colorectal cancer and breast cancer.

It's critical to note that The Lancet's meta-analysis assessed outcomes for those already diagnosed with cancer, and did not study the actual prevention of cancer or reduction of cancer risk.

Vitamin D products No. of tablets Daily no. of tablets Daily dose (IU) Price (SGD) Daily cost (SGD)
Doctor's Best Vitamin D3 1000IU 180 1 1000 20.00 0.11
Ocean Health Vitamin D3 1000IU 90 1 1000 19.90 0.22
Nature's Essence Vitamin D3 1000IU 90 1 1000 19.90 0.22
GreenLife Vitamin D3 1000IU 90 1 1000 20.25 0.23
Enzymatic Vitamin D3 1000IU 90 1 1000 24.20 0.27
Nature's Plus Vitamin D3 1000IU 180 1 1000 52.00 0.29
Webber Naturals Vitamin D3 1000IUU 100 1 1000 29.00 0.29
Blackmores Vitamin D3 1000IU 60 1 1000 20.00 0.33
Caltrate Vitamin D3 1000IUU 60 1 1000 20.90 0.35

FISH OIL FOR HEALTHIER BLOOD

Fish oil is a collective term that refers to two kinds of omega-3 acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

We must obtain these fatty acids from various foods in our diet-including fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds-as our bodies can't produce them naturally. Deficiencies in omega-3's could lead to a variety of health issues, including cardiovascular disease and strokes.

Ever since Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat collapsed from a stroke in May 2016, there has been an uptick in Singaporeans' interest in fish oil supplementation because of its supposed benefits in stroke prevention and treatment.

So, are fish oil supplements really an easy and effective way of preventing strokes?

DO FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS WORK?

A 2018 meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials included 77,917 subjects and studied the associations between fish oil supplementation and several cardiovascular disease outcomes, such as fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), nonfatal heart attack and stroke.

The analyses found that fish oil supplementation did nothing to reduce the incidences of cardiovascular diseases, as mentioned above.

However, that doesn't mean that fish oil supplementation is useless. Fish oil supplementation has long been proven to provide the health benefit of a significant reduction of triglycerides, a type of fat found in our blood. High levels of triglycerides are typically a sign of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Ultimately, fish oil supplements do work in keeping us healthier, just not in the area of stroke prevention or treatment.

Fish Oil Products No. of tablets Daily no. of tablets Daily dose (mg) Price (SGD) Daily cost (SGD)
VitaHealth VitaEPA Odourless Omega3 Fish Oil 1000mg 500 2 2000 74.50 0.30
Blackmores Odorless Fish Oil 1000mg 400 2 2000 75.00 0.38
Watsons Omega-3 Fish Oil 1000 90 2 2000 17.90 0.40
GreenLife Health Smart Fish Oil 300 2 2200 60.00 0.40
Principle Nutrition Natural Fish Oil 1000mg 90 2 2000 20.40 0.45
VitaRealm Omega-3 Alaska Tuna Fish Oil 300 3 3000 58.40 0.58
Herbs Of Gold Odourless Fish Oil 1000mg 300 3 3000 60.20 0.60
Holistic Way Omega 3 Premium Fish Oil 1000mg 150 3 3000 48.00 0.96
Kordel's Hi-Omega 3 Wild Salmon and Fish Oils 1000mg 180 3 3000 58.00 0.97
Ocean Health Omega 3 Fish Oil 1000mg 60 3 3000 21.60 1.08

BOTTOM LINE

All in all, it can be easy to become untrusting and cynical toward the health supplement industry with the number of false claims that are circulated.

Ultimately, it's critical to note that some supplements-such as the 3 mentioned above-do offer us benefits. For those worried about having a balanced nutritional profile and are willing to fit the costs in their budgets, health supplementation is still an excellent choice.

Especially compared to expensive medical treatments that entail poor health conditions, staying healthy with a smartly built portfolio of supplements could be as good of an "investment" financially, physically and mentally as a good medical insurance.

If you're planning on purchasing some supplements online, make sure to get the best deals and discounts with the right rewards credit cards.

This article was first published in ValueChampion.

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