The health products you can skip, from detox teas to vitamin shots

Beautiful Asian woman reading the ingredient label while shopping for multi vitamin & health supplements on shelf in supermarket. Heathy lifestyle concept.
With so many health and wellness products being marketed, it can be difficult to know what really works. (Getty Images)

The sheer volume of health and wellness products on the market right now can be overwhelming and confusing. With so many things claiming to be good for our health, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and know what really works.

It’s also a concern that many people get their health information from social media - where advertising is rife through brands and content makers.

A study carried out by researchers from the University of Chicago found that nearly half of TikTok videos analysed contained non-factual information, with many misleading videos being traced back to influencers with no medical qualifications.

A new investigation by Which? aims to provide some clarity on the nutritional claims made by these products.

The consumer experts examined a range of popular and emerging health products such as vitamin shots, detox teas, collagen creams and functional mushrooms.

young woman picking bottles with shampoo and conditioner from shelf in cosmetics store�
It's important to know what you're buying. (Getty Images)

Here’s what it found:

Which? determined that vitamin shots, which can commonly be found on supermarket and chain cafe shelves, “aren’t doing much good” for the planet, our wallets, or our health.

The organisation found that “many” vitamin shots cost over £2 for 60ml, equivalent to the same price per millilitre as a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne. In addition, the main ingredient in these products is fruit juice.

“Most of the contents aren’t necessary for people who follow a healthy, balanced diet,” Which? experts wrote, concluding that buying vitamin shots is “an expensive way to get vitamins”.

Healthy Ginger Sap on a wooden table as detailed close-up shot (selective focus)
Increasingly popular 'vitamin shots' mostly comprise of fruit juice. (Getty Images)

Detox teas have been around for some time but saw a huge boom in popularity around 2019 thanks to celebrities promoting them for weight loss purposes on social media.

Despite having been debunked numerous times over the years, some brands still sell "detox" teas that claim to help "cleanse" the body of toxins. But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) told Which? that its position is that “no product can detox the human body”.

Your kidneys, liver, lungs and skin are hard-working organs that detox you regularly, day in and day out.

The popularity of collagen creams and supplements has skyrocketed in recent years. While some studies have shown that collagen supplements have the potential to benefit bones, joints and skin, Which? points out that these purported benefits are “currently unproven by large-scale independent studies, with many trials funded by brands”.

Dr Thivi Maruthappu, from the British Cosmetic Dermatology Group, told the organisation that collagen molecules are too large to penetrate the outer layer of skin - rendering collagen creams useless. Some manufacturers break the molecules down into peptides, but it is “unlikely” that these will create any long-lasting change.

mid adult man with alopecia looking at mirror, hair loss concept
The market for hair loss products and solutions is huge due to people's insecurities about losing their hair. (Getty Images)

The importance of hair to a person’s sense of self and wellbeing is well-documented - with recent research by health and wellness platform Hims showing that one in 10 men are worried that their partner will leave them due to a receding hairline.

This anxiety around losing hair means that it’s a huge market. The same research found that one in 10 men are willing to pay up to £5,000 for a hair loss solution.

Trends like rosemary oil to combat hair loss and other shampoos and serums that claim to "revitalise" hair are popular on social media. But evidence for the effectiveness of these products is lacking. If you are worried about hair loss or thinning, you should speak to your GP or a trichologist for the best treatment.

Mushroom-based wellness products are everywhere, from being touted as a "coffee alternative" to daily vitamin supplements. This is predicted to be the fastest-growing segment in the wellness market in coming years, according to Grand View Research.

But the investigation found that many of the health benefits promoted by these products are “often based on different common proven ingredients, such as omega-3 and vitamins B12 and D, rather than the mushrooms themselves”.

Dietitian Lucy Kerrison, from King Edward’s VII’s Hospital, recently told Yahoo UK that many people would benefit from improving their diet - and eating fresh mushrooms as part of it - compared to taking mushroom supplements.

"What we tend to see with these types of studies that compare supplements versus whole foods is that the whole food product is much more beneficial compared to the concentrated component,” she said.

Which? determined that products marketed as "targeted painkillers" are a "waste" of money because it is "impossible" to target specific areas of pain.

The organisation was told by leading pain specialist and former Oxford University senior research fellow, Dr Andrew Moore, that "it’s impossible to formulate for headache, or joint pain, or period pain".

He concluded that, in general, there’s no need to spend more money on a branded painkiller that claims to address a specific area, when lower-cost supermarket brand painkillers will have the same effect.

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