Many different supplements are available, and there will always be another product introduced for yet another purpose. Granted, many of these products are safe and do offer varying degrees of performance, but the issues to consider are the financial costs and any possible risks from using some of these supplement products in the short or long-term.
Many of the weight loss claims of products exaggerate their benefits. Some help to burn fat or curb the appetite, but their affects usually are short-lived and have no long-term benefit. A person kick-starting a weight loss program or a bodybuilder preparing for a contest may be some of the few who benefit.
Strength enhancement, endurance and weight gain are all possible to improve through supplements. Creatine monohydrate, amino acids, and protein powders are common products that do work to varying degrees for some people.
Also realize that most advertisements show athletes who never used the product to achieve their own results or accomplishments. In the case of muscle-gain supplement ads, the majority show the results of steroid use not the product in hand.
Supplementing your diet with daily vitamins (except Mega Doses) is probably the least expensive way to ensure that you are not deficient. Not many health advocates will denounce your taking vitamins each day, and most studies show favorable results for health assurance. Some vitamins are derived from food, and they are most likely better than those developed in the lab. Daily multi-vitamin packs are preferable to 1 or 2 daily tablets that have been processed multiple times to get the vitamins concentrated into 1 or 2 tablets.
On the other hand, many of the herbs and other naturally occurring substances found in herbal products are concentrated in levels higher than would be naturally consumed in any normal diet. In addition, herbal products and many other over-the-counter supplements sold now contain herbal extracts as additives, which increases your overall exposure. And to top matters off, herbal products are not required to have FDA approval, which means that there isn't a great deal of research on them. Side effects from herbal products are not even required to be reported to any regulatory body. Herbals are under the scrutiny of self-regulation and should be either avoided or used with scrutiny.
The Bottom Line:
Other than vitamins, the benefits from the use of most supplement, though effective in several instances, are often short-lived and generally not worth taking based on price and the possibility that long-term adverse health concerns may exist. A cost/benefit analysis should be considered for these products with the overall objective in mind. Many of these products are unregulated, and they are often high-cost items with low-value benefit return.