It seems like everyday I read about the newest health supplement that just seems to be bursting with the cure for yet another common human ailment. One day a new usage is discovered for a well-known vitamin, the next it’s an African seed that’s been used to curb hunger by the regions natives for centuries. Whichever way this new supplement is discovered or used, it also seems to generate a fad following.
Now the encouraged consumption and incorporation of functional ingredients and natural supplements into our diets is not what I have a problem with. I am conflicted however, with which the evidence for these new “miracle ingredients” is presented. It is rare for media outlets to link their readers to the peer-reviewed journal articles that help support their claims. So how do we know when to believe the hype or not?
One answer comes in the form of a very interesting and interactive webpage (see link at bottom of the post_. I recently stumbled across this page while surfing the Internet on a not so interesting Wednesday. In a nutshell this webpage lists health supplements, from Vitamin D to black tea to omega-3’s to grapefruit seed extract. All of these supplements are represented by colourful bubbles, with size dictating their popularity and are ranked based on the amount of scientific evidence backing their particular health claim (i.e. peppermint oil as a cure for IBS). This eye-catching and easy to follow interface allows for a clear pictorial representation of which supplements have scientific merit, and which are more of hype (for now of course).
As a user you can choose to narrow down this list by type of health supplement (enzyme, mineral, plant compound etc.) or by health claim (cancer, mental health, digestion etc.). The best part is that each time you click on a supplement it will automatically lead you to a journal article (usually from NCBI – National Center for Biotechnology Information) providing scientific evidence that either backs up or disputes the health claim.
I highly recommend exploring this webpage and checking out the accompanying articles. It really is surprising to see which health supplements have very strong evidence backing their claims (i.e. folic acid), and which supplements (such as wheat grass) do not. Enjoy!
Information is Beautiful website: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/play/snake-oil-supplements/