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Do Wellness Shots Boost Your Health or Waste Your Money?

You’ll spot them at checkout counters, in health food stores and online, of course. Wellness shots—those small bottles that contain nutrients designed to improve your health—are easy to find.

Wellness shots give you different blends of extracts, herbs and spices manufacturers claim are immune boosting and can help you lose weight, fight inflammation, support your immune system or improve your health in other ways. That sounds enticing, right?

But each two- to three-ounce shot could cost $3 or more. If you’re taking them daily, you’ll be spending some serious money to support your habit. Is it worth it?

Dawn Gerber, PharmD, a pharmacy specialist with Banner Health, said, “High-quality studies with large quantities of participants over extended periods of time demonstrating benefits for any reason don’t exist for wellness shots.”

Here’s what to know about four popular wellness shot ingredients

If you decide to give wellness shots a try, keep in mind that they are not recommended by any medical guidelines or health science organizations, such as the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association. And manufacturers aren’t required to prove these dietary supplements are effective.

The health claims for dietary supplements often come from animal studies, small human studies or trials that looked at the benefits of eating a diet that contained those ingredients. Typically, the studies haven’t examined the product in the form that’s being sold.

The wellness shot: Apple cider vinegar

  • The health claim: Promotes weight loss
  • The truth: Many of the studies that have “proven” apple cider vinegar shots are effective were very small, and the participants were already on a calorie-restricted diet
  • The risk: Could damage tooth enamel or cause low potassium or skin irritation

The wellness shot: Turmeric, used as a spice and in traditional medicine in India

  • The health claim: A component of turmeric called curcumin fights inflammation and may help fight chronic diseases
  • The truth: It’s hard to know if turmeric or curcumin have health benefits, since not much reaches the bloodstream and they easily change into other substances
  • The risk: Little to no known risk

The wellness shot: Vitamin C

  • The health claim: It fights colds
  • The truth: There’s no evidence that vitamin C reduces the number of colds you get, but it could make them shorter and less severe
  • The risk: Could cause or worsen heartburn, diarrhea or upset stomach in high doses

The wellness shot: Ginger

Why are wellness shots so popular these days?

“My opinion is that the COVID-19 pandemic has many people feeling like they need to do something to protect themselves or their family. That feeling may lead them to try things with very little evidence beyond passionate testimonials or deceptive scientific-sounding language,” Dr. Gerber said. “People tend to think, ‘It can’t hurt, and it might help, so why not?’ when things are labeled as natural. Just because something is labeled natural or health boosting, doesn’t mean it is safe or effective for you.”

The bottom line

According to Dr. Gerber, the safest and most effective way to absorb vitamins and minerals is via food such as uncooked fruits and vegetables. If you decide you want to give wellness shots a try, research them at sites like medlineplus.gov or the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health and then discuss the information with your pharmacist or healthcare provider.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your nutrition, the experts at Banner Health can help you look at your habits and explore ways to make healthy changes. Visit bannerhealth.com to connect with a healthcare professional near you.

To learn more about foods that claim to boost your health, check out:

Nutrition Wellness