How Can One Filter Out Which Supplements Are Safe And Unsafe For Them To Use?

How can one filter out which supplements are safe and unsafe for them to use? There are a lot of supplements on the market that work and many that do not. Here's a detailed look at what beginners should watch for! Learn more.

The Question:

There are a lot of supplements on the market that are targeted to older or more advanced fitness enthusiasts, however, there are younger and more inexperienced athletes who find these same supplements desirable.

How can one filter out which supplements are safe and unsafe for them to use?

What are some basic supplements that are safe for everyone?

Which supplements should one be very cautious of?

Bonus Question: It's very important for one to know what is in the product they are buying and the quality of it. So, what are the most ethical supplement companies that one can trust?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:


        1st place - 75 in store credit.

        2nd place - 50 in store credit.

      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

1st Place - soundcheck129
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There are a lot of supplements on the market that are targeted to older or more advanced fitness enthusiasts, however, there are younger and more inexperienced athletes who find these same supplements desirable.

The world of supplements can be a vast and confusing place, especially for beginners. Unfortunately, improper use of some supplements can have very serious consequences. But you wouldn't know that from all of the glitzy ads and miraculous claims from marketing departments.

If you took every supplement package at face value, you'd probably think all you had to do was take a few pills every day and you'd be ripped beyond belief and in the best shape of your life. While more experienced athletes aren't likely to buy into this hype, newcomers with youthful optimism and inexperience may be tricked into a very dangerous situation.

You Might Think All You Had To Do Is Take Pills Every Day.
+ Click To Enlarge.
You Might Think All You Had To Do
Is Take A Few Pills Every Day.

And while our litigation-happy society may give you a different impression, it is ultimately your decision to put something into your body; no company can force you to use a product, no matter how persuasive the advertising seems. Ignorance of potential side effects is not an excuse.

You only get one body - treat it with care!

How Can One Know Which Supplements Are Safe And Unsafe?

In my opinion, younger athletes shouldn't really need too many supplements, especially if they are just beginning. A healthy teen has no need for a test-booster or fat loss pill - hard work and a lot of food can produce great results when combined with a youthful metabolism. Of course, everyone wants the edge, so supplement use is popular.

The first step to figure out whether a supplement is safe is simple - read the label. What is it, and what does it do? Is there an age limit? Some supplements are intended for adults only and often say so on their labels. You should also see if any side effects are listed on the product and if it has any warnings about possible interactions with other products or the possibility of aggravating pre-existing medical conditions.

If the supplement passes that inspection, it's time to dig a little deeper. Check out the ingredient list and look for anything you may have a reaction to, such as peanuts or milk products.

Also, be aware that some EFA products may have been derived from fish, a concern for those allergic to seafood. Many fat-burners and pre-workout products contain a lot of caffeine, which can be a problem for those sensitive to stimulants. Also, consider that sugar alcohols often cause bloating and digestive discomfort.

If you're still interested in a supplement, see if you can find anyone who has used it and inquire about their experiences. Going online can open up a whole world of reviews, such as the Product Review forum at,, and others. You may also want to do a Google search on any ingredients you didn't recognize on the product label.

Lastly, consult your doctor if you are still in doubt. A professional opinion is always a valuable one. And if your house is like mine was, you may also want to do a mental "mom check," as in, what is mom going to say about this supplement? If you can't explain the safety issue, you may have to reconsider.

What Are Some Basic Supplements That Are Safe For Everyone?

While there are many potentially risky supplements, there are plenty of supplements that are perfectly safe. Usually, the simplest supplements are the safest - those with only a few, common ingredients or those derived from whole foods. Some safe bets are:

Protein Powders

      Whey is a great source of protein; very convenient and highly bioavailable, not to mention delicious.

      Look for Isolates, not Concentrates, or powders with added digestive enzymes. There are also non-dairy alternatives such as pea protein, egg protein, and rice protein.

Multivitamins and Minerals




      are essential for many of the body's processes, and are unlikely to aggravate any allergies you have.

Top Selling Multivitamins:

BCAAs and EAAs

Amino acids

      are the building blocks of protein, so you're already ingesting these in your food and most are manufactured in your body already.

Fatty Acids

Fish Oils



      , and even


      are naturally occurring fatty acids and play important roles in the body. These are a great addition to any diet, and promote healthy joints and build brain cells.



      is produced naturally by the body and is very helpful in inducing a deep sleep. The only possibly side effect is drowsiness, but that is expected from a

sleep aid

      ; don't take this if you need to be awake and alert.

Which Supplements Should One Be Very Cautious Of?

First of all, be weary of any supplement that seems too good to be true, because it probably is. You should make sure you fully understand what all of the ingredients are and what the supplement will do before taking it. If you can't recognize or pronounce any of the ingredients, you may want to stay away.

Also, many people regard creatine as a 'safe' supplement, but it has been linked with kidney problems, so it can be dangerous, especially if you do not consume enough water.

Caffeine products should also be taken with sufficient water. Also, too much caffeine can cause nausea, irritability, and other issues, so don't combine fat burners and energy products; one or the other may even be too much.

Hormonal products should also be avoided. Unless you have an existing problem, you probably don't need to be supplementing it, especially when you are young. All you really need to promote already normal healthy testosterone levels are some healthy fats and deadlifts.

Any product that requires a post-cycle regimen should raise a red flag. But this warning isn't limited to testosterone boosters - be wary of growth hormone and nsulin products too.

Fat burners and weight-loss products are often loaded with stimulants and can interfere with your insulin levels and hunger signals, which is very serious. Use with caution, preferably only in extreme cases. Look out for products containing ephedra or ephedrine - this can be dangerous.

Supplements that contain banned or formerly banned substances should obviously be avoided as well. In addition, make sure all of the supplements you take are compatible with each other. And don't take anything unless you know exactly what it is - even if your buddy says it's fine.

What Are The Most Ethical Supplement Companies That One Can Trust?

Because the supplement industry is not FDA regulated, accuracy of label claims and quality can sometimes be difficult to determine. Some of the most "trusted" names are only regarded as such because everyone else seems to like them. And while bigger companies would seem to be more reliable, they can also be out of touch with their customers and may employ cost-cutting measures to increase sales.

Try to find a company that offers transparency, interacts with customers on a regular basis, and provides sound, current science to support their claims. Avoid companies that refuse to disclose information and hide behind "proprietary blends."

Doing research online and checking websites and reviews can also help here. Be aware that the most popular companies, the ones with the most sales, or the most expensive ones are not necessarily the best. While everyone's opinion may differ, my experiences have lead me to trust the following companies:

These companies seem to be in a constant pursuit of improvement and are in touch with their target consumers. Additionally, companies such as Gaspari are made up of people who have experience in the lifting community and are dedicated to the sport, so they are more personally invested in the products.

2nd Place - big game hunter
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How Can One Know Which Supplements Are Safe And Unsafe?

Welcome to the world of supplements. It is a highly complex world where there are several options and possibilities. Possibilities and results may be good or bad. If you do not know your way around and take a wrong step or if you do not know where to tread, you could take a fall.

There is a way to go about this chaotic world - a way to simplify things and take the steps required to help get you to your desired goal. The several people who have used supplements to their advantage are ample proof that there can be gold at the end of the rainbow. Then again, the several more who have failed show that not knowing what to do can get you no where and worse yet, get you in serious trouble.

The most important tool to have with you in this world is "Knowledge". This is what is going to help you keep the guess work less and succeed here.

Experienced or not, you would be foolish to choose a supplement that you are not sure is safe for you. Coming to younger and inexperienced athletes, the biggest enemy for such youngsters is "Misconception and Wrong Information" (Again coming back to KNOWLEDGE).

Inexperienced guys who think that an athlete does not require supplements at all are wrong. Supplements are used in just about every sport today and also by regular non athletic people who lead normal and healthy lifestyles.

Sure, a healthy diet is a must for a supplement to work in the first place. So newbies, do not sacrifice a good, healthy and balanced diet for anything. Supplements can be added to fill in the gaps in your diet. That about sums up what the role of a supplement is.

People take supplements because a solid daily diet could lack certain nutrients or may not contain the quantities required for your body and activity levels. Just as food is important to your body, so are supplements. I am sure you know how sick you feel when you have had bad food or stuff that does not suit you. In the same way, the wrong supplement can make you sick.

Second misconception that several inexperienced guys have is that supplements alone will do the trick for them. The answer to that is a "NO". Supplements alone will not work. As mentioned earlier, supplements only fill in the gaps in your diet.

Wait. It is still not time to go out there and buy every product off the shelf like there is no tomorrow. Further action plans are necessary.

Now that we have the role of supplements cleared out, let us get to how to safely consume them. First of all, you need to analyze yourself. Get measurements - height, weight, waist, hip, body fat percentages etc. First get a clear picture of what you are right now. Get an initial body reading.

Next, decide your goals. The supplements for a person looking to lose weight may differ from those that a person looking to train in Kung Fu or swimming.

Next would be to assess your diet. Write down what you eat or what you are going to eat on a daily basis for the next week during your training routine. This gives a fair idea of what your diet is like. Now would be the best time to have a nutritionist look into your diet and suggest corrections or alternatives.

Write Down What You Eat Or What You Are Going To Eat.
+ Click To Enlarge.
Write Down What You Eat Or
What You Are Going To Eat.

Now that these steps are done, you can start listing down supplements that you require. Note down the supplements required first. Then, hunt for good companies selling them.

This sort of systematic approach gives you an indication before hand as to whether a supplement that you are going to add or drop to or from your diet is going to be effective or not.

New comers to the world of supplements are advised to stay away from fake claims made by some companies that lie to consumers and also, stay away from the guys who take in all the stuff on the block and look like walking minotaurs. These guys often use unsafe supplements. Any advice taken from them needs to be thoroughly researched before accepting that it is good for you.

Make a study of the supplements that your sport requires and the dosages required for you. Overdosing could lead to internal and/or health problems and underdosing could hinder your gains. Do research and check if the supplements you have chosen are safe. In general, choose stuff that does not include any harmful stimulants, narcotics or anabolic steroids.

What? You do not think dosages are a serious issue? Well, let me tell you about a certain incident that occurred in California.

On January 12, 2007, in California - a 28-year old wife and mother of three children died from drinking too much water. Her body was found in her home shortly after she took part in a water-drinking contest that was sponsored by a local radio show. Entitled "Hold Your Wee For A Wii," the contest promoters promised a free Wii video game machine to the contestant who drank the most water without urinating.

The excess water had put tremendous amounts of stress on her kidneys and heart, hampered her blood flow. It could also lead to brain damage. The lady died because she had too much water in too little time.

Hope dosages mean something to you now - newbie athletes. Even the safest of substances like water can kill if abused.

What Are Some Basic Supplements That Are Safe For Everyone?

There are certain gems that almost everyone can use without too much worry. These supplements are the centerpiece around which a supplement stack often revolves. Oh! - A supplement stack is a combination of supplements that you may take in order to gain extra benefits.

You could choose to stack two or more supplements or just take one. Let us go over a list of stuff that is in general, safe for everyone to use.

1. Whey Protein

Whey protein

      is the king of supplements. It is beneficial to everyone who indulges in physical activity, even the general physical activity of a daily normal life. Muscles need


      to stay strong and grow.

Making sure that your body receives optimum amounts of protein to stay intact or to make them grow is a smart idea. Without protein, your body will lose muscle during exercise and retain more fat, thus making you fatter.

I have mentioned whey protein here specifically because it is the most widely used protein supplement. Other forms of protein supplements come in the form of soy protein, casein protein, and egg protein.

2. Weight Gainers

      These help

gain weight

      - as the name suggests. They often contain


      along with


      . A safe option.

3. Creatine


      is again one of the most effective, safe supplements around. It is used to gain or maintain lean muscle mass and strength.

4. Multivitamins

      Our bodies need




      to support our existence. Every function and tissue of our body requires these magic ingredients to make it happen for us. Athletes especially could do with an adequate supply of vitamins that help overcome deficiencies. Thus, enabling the body to recover and function at it's strongest.

5. Branched Chain Amino Acids

      These are the building blocks of protein.


      , when ingested, is broken down into

amino acids

      in the body. These acids then aid in building and repairing tissues. Not all amino acids are produced internally by the body and hence, have to be consumed through proper food. A quality


      is a good and safe inclusion to the supplement list.

6. Omega-3 Sources

Omega 3


Omega 6


Omega 9

      are the magic three

essential fatty acids

      . Most people get adequate amounts of Omega 6 and Omega 9 through daily and normal food. However, the Omega 3 is the one that is hard to get.

      A good Omega 3 supplement is a great thing to have. Ya, I know what you are thinking, but do not worry. These are healthy fats and there is nothing to worry about. Make sure to cut out the harmful fats. Healthy fats assist the body and organs.

7. Nitric Oxide

Nitric oxide

      helps increase blood flow in the body and thus results in more nutrients reaching your muscles during an exercise session.

8. Safe Fat Burners


safe fat burner

      is a good bet for someone looking to lose weight and fit into his clothes.

Which Supplements Should One Be Very Cautious Of?

Newcomers and inexperienced people in particular have to steer clear of supplements that make extraordinary claims to radically change your body and deliver instant results. It does not work that way. And if it does, it is more than likely that the supplement contains some ingredients that are harmful to health.

Some stuff like anabolic steroids, narcotics and stimulants should be totally avoided as mentioned earlier in the article. These are not safe for the body.

Then there are supplements that are safe to take, but need to be taken in the appropriate dosages or with extra precaution. Example would be creatine or fat burners. Creatine, diuretics and fat burners require that you consume extra amounts of water on a daily basis especially the days you are on them.

Also, it is not a good idea to consume supplements that alter your natural body functions, such as hormone production. A small imbalance in the hormonal activity in the body could lead to several side effects or serious health impacts.

Apart from just choosing the right supplements, you have also got to be within safe dosage limits. Remember the story of the California woman mentioned earlier in the article?

What Are The Most Ethical Supplement Companies That One Can Trust?

I am sure you all give a great deal of importance to the quality of food you eat, and justifiably so. In the same way, quality of supplements plays a factor and can be detrimental to your results and/or health.

It is always suggested to research supplements and supplement companies. A good brand name instills confidence in the buyer. There are several companies that come up, make a quick buck and then get shut down. These are the ones to beware of. The ones to choose from are those that have been around a long time. Because if they were not delivering quality products, they would not last and would not sell for so long.

One good way to zero in on the list of good companies supplying the product you are looking for is through the store. Just select the supplement you want to research and then you get the list of top sellers. Do this a few times and you will come to know of certain big names in the industry that you can trust.

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How Can One Know Which Supplements Are Safe And Unsafe?

It seems that everywhere we look, the marketing masters have found a new piece of real estate on which to grab our attention, pull us in, mesmerize and seduce us with the latest celebrity gossip, fad diet, and of course... miracle supplements! Get ripped, get massive, get sleek, get energy, GET SEXY! You name it, there's a pill for it.

You Name It There Is A Pill For It.
+ Click To Enlarge.
You Name It There Is A Pill For It.

With all these supplement companies vying for our hard earned cash, who can you trust? Who's looking out for number one? Who's got my back? The answer my friends is no one. Well, your mom doesn't count!

With such a plethora of every imaginable supplement to do every imaginable thing one might have trouble imagining a manageable way through this mess! Fear not because with great freedom comes great responsibility - meaning that our free market society allows us to have an insane amount of the most amazing concoctions - so it is our responsibility to thoroughly protect ourselves with a little research. Don't worry, I'm here to help.

Before considering supplementation please understand that supplements are ALL designed to work in conjunction with an exercise and diet plan. No one has created that magic fitness model pill that activates only when your butt is firmly planted on the couch. Once you have an exercise and diet regime dialed in, though, proper supplementation can kick your progress into high gear!

The first step would be to always read the label and all literature provided with any supplement you might be interested in consuming.

The second step, for liability and practical reasons, is to talk to your doctor about any supplements that may interest you. Most likely your doctor will have good insight into your personal health needs and be able to help you steer clear of any supplements that propose a possible danger to your well being.

OK, now that the legal stuff is out of the way, I realize that most of us don't regularly see a private doctor. We may not even know somebody who knows about supplements! So what do we do? I wouldn't suggest just walking in to your local supplement/nutrition shop, for that can be an overwhelming experience for the newbie.

What I would suggest is exactly what you are doing right now! Reading articles. Surf around and find BodySpace members that inspire you and read what their taking.

The more you do, the more you will find similarities in basic supplements such as whey protein and creatine. You will notice what the more hardcore guys are taking things like nitric oxide or anabolic stimulants. What I love about is that every time a supplement is mentioned, its name is a link to literature on that product!

What Are Some Basic Supplements That Are Safe For Everyone?

I consider a safe supplement to be something outside your regular diet that you can add to your diet in any amount without fear of uncomfortable side effects.

The number one most popular and safe supplement is hands down, whey protein. Protein is used to build muscle and since most people agree that you must consume between one and two grams per pound of your body weight in order to grow, it definitely pays to add whey protein to your diet.

Number two on my list of safe supplements are multivitamins. The RDA, or recommended daily allowance, that is printed on every piece of food showing all the vitamins and minerals within it... zzzzzzz. I think I just fell asleep, sorry!

The RDA is a set amount to keep you awake, alive and kicking... barely. What a joke. More like Really Dumb Amount. Take lots of multi's! Take them multiple times a day... but hey, don't just take my word for it. Look up what all the vitamins and minerals do and you will agree with me.

My third favorite safe supplement is omega-3 fish oil pills. The good fats in those help with everything from fat loss to immune system support. Fish oil pills even come enteric coated so you don't have fishy burps... YUCK!!

Lastly, I don't think most people think of it as a supplement, but WATER is not to be forgotten. About a gallon a day is the bodybuilder's way!

Which Supplements Should One Be Very Cautious Of?

Be leery of any supplement that purports to physically change your body composition without exercise. That is always a marketing scam! As for the real supplements... be cautious with everything you put in your body.

I would recommend being extra careful with stimulants; caffeine, ephedra or ephedrine, yohimbe, and many others contained within the fat loss and pre-workout energy supplements. These cause dehydration, rise in blood pressure, and agitation.

I would be very careful with anything that effects hormones; testosterone or testosterone stimulators; steroids are bad, okay? We're talking really bad. I don't even trust things that "boost" my testosterone.

It's very important for one to know what is in the product they are buying and the quality of it. So, what are the most ethical supplement companies that one can trust?

As amateur and professional bodybuilders, we are very lucky to have resources such as to review, rate, and discuss supplements and their companies. Just go to the store and look at the link to the top 50 supplements! That's a great start.

It is safe to assume the more popular supplements are accepted by more people, so those are a good list to go from and have piece of mind. Odds are you will find success as many have before you. So go forth, do your research young warrior, and reap the benefits of knowledge. Nothing feels better than changing faster than everyone else at the gym because you know how to properly supplement yourself!

By Justin L.