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Navigating the field of supplements is a hard task.
Nobody wants to waste their hard-earned money on things that don’t work. Most people follow the advice of friends, family, or recommendations from others with similar problems without doing proper research first. This article will guide you through the field of how to do your research before committing.
These are the top reasons why people do not get results.
- The supplements used do not fit the problem.
- The information about the supplements used only solves part of the overall problem.
- The science behind the supplements works well in the lab, but not so well in the real world.
How do you choose what to take?
- Recommended by friends, reviews, or others in forums?
- Recommended by doctors in the clinic?
- Recommended by marketing or advertising?
- Doing your own research based on the advice you received from all of the above?
These are the top ways to get results from your supplements.
- They have been tested on humans for the specific, not general, problem you have.
- They have been used on more than 100 people in these trials.
- The conclusions of the trials show positive results for the problem they are attempting to treat.
- You take them for the right amount of time.
Most supplements and vitamins used are not necessary with a good diet and exercise. You can save a fortune by following the essential fertility diet here.
It is a common belief that you can take whatever supplements you like, and if they work: great! And if not? Well, it did not do you any harm. Often people believe the more supplements they take, the better the final result. This logic would suggest taking everything possible for best results – common sense dictates this is unlikely. All quality supplements have an effect on the body. Just because you did not get results, does not mean they did nothing? Success is based on taking the right things for your body – not everything you can get your hands on. Hopeful mothers may take every supplement they have heard can help, in the hope that something will work, but still with no result.
There is a better way to know what to take.
Clever marketing can make companies’ products seem necessary for a good life. Take the battle between soft drink companies as an easy example of something bad for your health to seem desirable for a good life. This type of marketing goes on in the world of medicine and supplements too. Typically scientific evidence is used to support the benefits of these products, but how do you know what is good science or marketing hype?
The following section is how to avoid common mistakes.
Pitfalls of a friend’s referral, testimonial, and forums.
Knowing someone has had success with particular pregnancy supplements is encouraging. There is an incentive to try it for yourself, especially if you have the same problem.
People, like fertility problems, can be complex and do not always have a “one product fits all” solution. Understanding your problem, and understanding the solutions offered are the way to successfully navigate the information.
People who have solved their medical problems have the benefit of their personal experience. If 500 people say this product has helped them, clearly, it is an effective product and worthwhile looking into it! Does their success mean that it will the same success for you? It could if your problem and the benefits of the supplements match. Knowing if your problem is really your problem, or just looks like someone else’s is a key to success.
Understand, diagnose, and treat fertility problems simply and easily here.
There is a big difference between a doctor and a patient making a judgment on a medical solution.
Many patients may have the same diagnosis, but have different reasons for the problem. Medical experts know the differences, patients will not.
Doctors see thousands of patients a year. An individual can have an experience of the medical system but only be aware of their own circumstances; yet apply these experiences to everyone else who seems the same. Differential diagnosis is the process of determining the difference between two or more conditions that share similar signs or symptoms. This is what medical professionals do, but patients cannot due to lack of training, experience, and expertise.
Forums are a great place to hear stories from other people. Individuals in forums spread their personal experience: readers can interpret the information as a medical possibility for themselves, and act on other’s experiences. This is where the term “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing” applies.
Proper research using scientifically presented articles is the best start to separating fact from fiction.
This section is how to understand and benefit from reasearch.
It is Science that began every supplement on the market today. Some supplements are great; others fall short of the benefits they advocate. What works for one person may not for you. This is why Science is useful to make informed decisions. Read on and you will know how to make Science work for you.
Understanding how research hand science works will help you make intelligent and informed decisions about what to do. Understanding does not take much practice if you have a proper guide to follow. Do not be afraid of tackling a scientif article!
Most people will believe a product if it has science behind it.
- Do you know if the reports of science back up the marketed benefits?
- Do you read the referenced scientific publication?
- Have you clicked on the link to see if the research paper matches the claim?
- How do you know if the scientific research quoted is good quality?
- Do you know how to interpret the data and understand the conclusions of scientific research papers?
How not to be fooled: Understanding scientific evidence made easy.
The “abstract” is the start of all scientific articles. In the abstract researchers will describe who or what the study is performed on.
- Is the product only tested on mice? Mice aren’t people and when it comes to fertility treatment the two are worlds apart.
- Has science tested the product on people? Real-world results are created on people. Often positive results on mice do not translate to the same effects on people.
- How many people was it tested on? 100 or more people in a study is a good start. Anything less is not regarded as good science.
This is very important. What has benefitted other humans is more likely to benefit you than what has helped mice. You are a person, not a mouse. Fertility models are very different.
Many research studies begin testing on lab mice and are then extrapolated for real-world outcomes for people, this is common. Real research evolves from testing on animals (mostly mice) then onto humans.
Human testing is real-world proof, not lab-world proof.
The problem with the mouse model for testing fertility research.
Your average brown mouse will have 4 – 14 pups, 5 to 8 times a year, on average about 100 babies a year. A woman tends to only have one baby every two years at best. The disparity between the mouse fertility model and the female fertility model is a poor comparison, yet this is how most research is concluded. If it works on mice, then it should work on women. Reality tells a different story. Read more here.
If the product has been tested on people: how many is a good number?
This is where the ‘power’ of a study comes in. Testing a product on 20 people divided into two groups is an ‘underpowered’ study. This means that there are not enough people tested to determine the difference in results. If a study examines 200 people, it is likely to be well powered and the results more accurate. 1000 people in a study will provide accurate results (though many studies will not include this many participants). You can ignore any published science that studies a group of people with less than 100 participants – it is just not enough to create real-world expectations. Studies published with less than 100 people are ‘pilot’ studies designed to create an interesting idea requiring much more study before drawing conclusions.
Often underpowered studies are misinterpreted as reality by the public and a new treatment is promoted without realistic results to back it up.
In most scientific articles you will see a number such as P-value > 0.1 and variations of this figure. Scientists start with an idea and then research tests how wrong the idea is. This is called the ‘null hypothesis.’ Instead of proving they are right, they try to prove that they are wrong. How wrong they are is reflected in the P-Value.
P-Value is the holy grail of how true something is likely to be true.
When you see a p-value > 0.05, this means the probability of it being wrong is less than a 5 in 100 or 5%. If you see a p-value > 0.005, it means there is 5 in 1000 or 0.5% chance of being wrong. The lower the P-value the more likely it is to be true.
Statisticians love P-Values. Reality does not.
There is great value in statistics, but once again the real world ruins expectations. Studies that quote a p-value of 0.05 (5/100 or 5%) are more likely to be 23 – 50% wrong. A study with a p-value of 0.01 (1/100 or 1%) falls between 7 – 15% wrong. This is where lab results are unable to reflect real-world results, and it the Achilles heel of science and research,
You need a high powered study with 1000 participants to get an accurate p-value. Few studies involve these many participants. This does not mean studies of less than 1000 people should be ignored, it is just that the findings are less likely to reflect reality.
The easy way to understand what scientists say about their research.
Read the abstract at the start of a research paper. This is a great way to get an idea of what the study is about and what they found. Often it is so condensed that by the end it makes no sense – don’t worry! Reading the conclusions further down the paper will make much more sense. It is best to read as much of the abstract and introduction as you can handle, and then scroll to the conclusion section. These three areas contain why they are doing the study and wrap up the findings. Of any study you read, make sure you read the conclusion – that is where the most valuable information is found.
The conclusion of a research paper has the most valuable information.
If the conclusions in the studies match the advertised benefit – you are likely to benefit. When conclusions say it works for mice, but there were no differences for people – it is unlikely that what you take is going to work. If a study says “there was no significant difference between the people who took it and people who did not,” it does not mean you have a 50/50 chance of it working. What it means is that if you do or don’t take it is unlikely to make any difference. Essentially it is a waste of your time and money.
Studies that show positive outcomes for humans taking the product should attract considerable attention.
Pregnancy supplements that have only been tested on mice and then sold straight to people should be regarded with caution. They often fall into the category of “no significant difference between the people who took it and people who did not.”
When you come across a product designed to solve a problem – check the research behind the opinion. Make sure the advice is referenced and accessible. Read the abstract, introduction, and conclusion. Using this method you will be way ahead of the crowd when it comes to understanding what you are taking and why.
Trust in yourself! You will be able to make sense of the research with a little time and effort. It get’s easier.
See our science here, for you to easily understand our methods and results.