nothin’ a few whale placenta caplets won’t fix


While we’re talking about the whole getting-into-your-forties-gracefully thing, I should get a word in about vitamins or supplements, which remain something that a) someone in their 20s thinks is insane, and b) someone in their 40s will think is a waste of time until they truly start believing there’s a shot at extending their stay on the planet.

My biggest problem about supplements is not the cost (which can be prohibitive), or if they work, but just remembering to take the fuckers every day. And if the supplement demands to be taken more than once a day, I find it offensive. A life that demands shark cartilage capsules every four hours is a life that doesn’t deserve lasting longer.

The misinformation and hype around vitamins and supplements isn’t much better than it was on the Oregon Trail circa 1842, and it tends to originate from some pretty desperate websites and un-rigorous anecdotal evidence screamed in comment sections. Which leads you to Wikipedia or medicine journals, written in language you can’t possibly fathom (check out Wikipedia’s entry on the popular N-A-C supplement).

Thank god for the internet; it views such deficiencies as a virus and works around it. Behold the best graph I’ve seen on the subject yet… the size of the circle is determined by Google hit popularity, and the closer the circle is to the top, the more scientific evidence that it works:




But this is just a snapshot for today. Click on the image itself for the interactive version, updated all the time, with all the relevant info ported into the graph as it comes through trial studies. Kudos to the fine folks at Information is Beautiful – actually putting in a “worth it” line? Brilliant!

0 thoughts on “nothin’ a few whale placenta caplets won’t fix

  1. once a heel

    There’s probably 10 blogs worth of material here… where to start?
    I don’t want to discourage people who feel they receive real benefits from some of these things, be they truly pharmacological or even placebo effects.
    Let me just say, the most important part of this graph is the disclaimer at the top:
    “… when taken by an adult with a healthy diet”
    I guarantee you, (most) people truly eating a healthy diet have already greatly reduced their incidence of obesity, cancer, diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol, etc. etc. far more than will be achieved through these supplements.
    The problem is that 99.99% of people have no real clue as to what constitutes a healthy diet – most without even realizing it – and those that do are often unwilling or unable to keep to one (myself included). Why? Lots of blame to spread around, but that’s fodder for another blog.
    The point being, the time, effort and discipline that one puts into researching and consuming some of these things might be better spent in the service of figuring out what NOT to consume in the first place.

  2. xuxe

    omg i love this!!! i totally agree, it’s the hardest thing to just take the shit on a consistent basis when it’s not like it’s going to save you from dying, it’s something you probably heard about in some health magazine in between new cardio excercises and designer yoga mat holsters.
    after about a week of supplements i’m always like, yeah, whatever, i’m not even opening the medicine cabinet, i just want a pop tart. but even back in my 20’s when my posse was early into naturopathic tinctures and such, i was always left out feeling no change because my diet was too off balance. i mean, if you’re eating nothing but quinoa and seitan with a bok choi chaser from real food daily, then sure, a teaspoon of valerian root will probably knock you on your ass. but if it’s fighting with a brownie and coffee sloshing around in your system? brownie and coffee wins!


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