Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Men's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

What Vitamins Should I Take?

Are the little packs of vitamins at the checkout all you need?
By
WebMD Health News

May 22, 2000 -- I often see little packs of vitamins labeled 'especially for men' at check-out counters and I wonder, are they a good idea or just marketing hype?  I'd say they're mostly hype. The mini-pack approach to vitamins and herbs usually offers convenience rather than substance or value. And placing them by the check-out counter suggests they're being marketed as an impulse buy -- the same strategy used to sell candy bars or magazines. The time to make decisions about supplements is not while waiting on line or chatting with the cashier.

Your choice of supplement products should be based on an examination of your personal health needs and which products are right for you, rather than an impulse purchase. Of course, that takes a little more time and study.

Paying a little extra for convenience may not be worth it. Here's a rundown on the drawbacks:

  1. You may not be getting much of anything. The small vitamin packs often have minimal levels of the same nutrients that are much more plentiful in conventionally packaged products.

     

  2. The one-shot fix may sound like a good thing, but it doesn't give you the benefit of steady nutrient levels throughout the day. If you're serious about supplements, it's best to spread them out over three meals, or at least take them twice a day.

     

  3. "Energy" supplements are usually stimulants that can be potentially harmful. For example, ephedra (the plant source of ephedrine) is often touted as an energy-boosting herb. It can cause liver and kidney damage and high blood pressure, among other complications. Panax ginseng, also promoted as an energy booster, can cause side effects such as anxiety and insomnia with long-term use.

     

  4. Many of the supplement packets labeled "for men" may be unnecessary for you or misleadingly hyped. Many packets contain a little extra zinc, or perhaps the herbs saw palmetto or Pygeum africanum. These can support prostate function and sexual health in middle-aged and older men who are vulnerable to certain problems, but only if taken consistently on a long-term basis. They are not particularly beneficial to younger men, and are certainly not one-time performance enhancers for men of any age.

The bottom line? Intelligent supplement use requires a more thoughtful approach. The vitamin packs at check-out counters tend to be more costly per day and less effective than other products. Those containing stimulants should be avoided. If you want to use supplements, take your time to find quality products and stick with them. If you have any major health problems or are taking prescription medication, you should discuss any supplement use with your doctor so that together you can make the best choices for your health.

William Collinge, MPH, PhD, is the author of the American Holistic Health Association's Complete Guide to Alternative Medicine. He lives in Mill Valley, Calif.

The bottom line? Intelligent supplement use requires a more thoughtful approach. The vitamin packs at check-out counters tend to be more costly per day and less effective than other products. Those containing stimulants should be avoided. If you want to use supplements, take your time to find quality products and stick with them. If you have any major health problems or are taking prescription medication, you should discuss any supplement use with your doctor so that together you can make the best choices for your health.

William Collinge, MPH, PhD, is the author of the American Holistic Health Association's Complete Guide to Alternative Medicine. He lives in Mill Valley, Calif.

Today on WebMD

Life Cycle of a Penis
Slideshow
Preacher Curl
Slideshow
 
testosterone molecule
Article
Xray of foot highlighting gout
Slideshow
 
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Slideshow
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Quiz
 
Man taking blood pressure
Slideshow
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
Condom Quiz
Quiz
thumbnail_angry_couple_in_bed
Slideshow
 
man running
Quiz
woman holding hand to ear
Slideshow