By Steven V. Joyal, MD
So, do dietary supplements work differently in animals than humans? Well, intriguing information suggests the answer is yes, but not in the way you might think.
Study: The Influence of Supplements on BehaviorIn a study1 published this year in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Psychological Science, scientists set out to investigate the powerful influence of dietary supplement use on behavior.
The investigators designed an experiment to determine how dietary supplement use influenced behavior involving actions critical to health such as food consumption and exercise. The scientists instructed one group to take a multivitamin, and the control group to take a placebo; however, in actuality, both groups received a placebo.
The scientists discovered something pretty remarkable: The group that believed they were taking a powerful multivitamin indulged in risky health behavior, including a preference to dine at a high-calorie buffet rather than consume a healthy meal, to exercise far less than the control group, and to be far more willing to engage in unhealthy activities. Interesting, isn’t it?
The Implications are ProfoundIn fact, the results of the study suggest that in the general population, dietary supplement use has a strong tendency to create an exaggerated sense of security and to foster behavior that can be detrimental to health.
The study authors use the term “illusory invulnerability” to describe the tendency for dietary supplement users to engage in risky behavior because of their perceived imperviousness to disability and disease.
Based upon the results of this recent study, dietary supplement users need to carefully monitor their behavior and be aware that indulging in risky activities may seriously reduce the health benefits of their supplements. Dietary supplement use is not a license to eat unhealthy food or reduce physical exercise.
Be aware of your actions. Don’t sabotage the benefits of dietary supplements on your health with unhealthy behavior!
- Psychol Sci. 2011 Aug;22(8):1081-6. Epub 2011 Jul 15.
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