Protein powders not for all, say doctors – Deccan Chronicle

Visakhapatnam/ Hyderabad: Youngsters trying to bulk up on muscles and obese persons trying to lose weight are falling easy prey to the claims being made by manufacturers of protein supplements without a proper analysis, or getting medical advice on whether their body requires it.  

They pay Rs 2,000 for 500 grams of the protein supplement usually found in powder form even though it may not work at all.


The substandard ones cost between `500 and `700 a kg. They are among the fastest-moving products at gyms, fitness clubs, weight loss clinics and multi-level marketing channels.

Fitness enthusiasts believe, wrongly, that the way to losing weight is skipping breakfast and supper and consuming highly processed food supplements to achieve a good physique in a very short time.

Women are known to use protein supplements to do away with hunger pangs.

Dr Sai Kumar Katam, national president of Doctor of Pharmacy Association of India, said only a handful of supplements have been tested for safety and effectiveness. “There is a need for more high-quality studies before these supplements are sold to the public.”

Companies use phrases like ‘research proven’ or ‘laboratory tested’ or other scientific sounding claims to sell the products. There is no effective prescription medication to prevent cognitive decline in healthy older adults, neurologists say.

Dr Chandrasekar Naidu, senior neurologist with KIMS, said cognitive decline is also caused by a lack of vitamin B12 and E which affects the functioning of the brain. Scie-ntists studying Alzheim-er’s and Parkinson’s have been researching the relationship between low B12 levels and memory loss.

“Research so far has shown that adequate amounts of B12 has positive effects and helps to slow cognitive decline. B-12 deficiency is most common among people with bowel or stomach issues, strict vegetarians and those suffering from diabetes as the drug metformin is found to reduce B12 levels. This is only one reason for cognitive decline,” Dr Naidu said.

Dr Deepika Sirineni, senior consultant neurophysician at Apollo Hosp-itals, explained, “Out of all supplements, DHA and EPA have some evidence of usefulness. They are known to boost memory and thinking functions in children and adults but studies are few. We need more evidence to confirm that they really help.”

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is the main Omega-3 fat in the brain and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is found in low quantities.

Herbal supplements like ginkgo, biloba,  ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Bacopa and Monnieri and allopathic drugs with the molecule methylphenidate are the most popular in India.

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