Boulder is the healthiest place I have practiced as a Physical Therapist with a low prevalence of common chronic diagnoses, such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, or medication use. In contrast, supplement use is highly prevalent among our fellow Boulder County citizens. A common question we receive in our Boulder Physical Therapy and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinics is will any supplementation use help.
Supplements have exploded over recent decades with an increase in advertising and product placements with often too good to be true health claims. Supplements have a unique relationship with the FDA and often do not need to notify the FDA before coming to the market. In addition, the research behind supplements in weak at best with most of the studies being funded by the manufacturer with small sample sizes and methodological limitations making it difficult to draw meaningful conclusions.
There are certainly times when supplements are appropriate in our health. While working with a physician, blood work and testing may reveal nutritional deficiencies requiring additional supplementation. In addition, health states such as pregnancy may benefit from supplementation as prescribed by the physician in charge of your care.
Some smaller studies have shown benefits of some supplements such as collagen and researchers are currently examining its’ effect on recovery from injury, as well as, its’ effect when combined with exercise. Time will tell if this supplement may help individuals recovering from injury or surgery.
In general, most supplements are not required for optimal health unless you have been advised by your physician. While in Physical Therapy, patients are encouraged to pursue other lifestyle areas of nutrition, sleep, stress management, and regular exercise for the greatest impact on your current recovery from pain, injury, or surgery.