The world of supplements can be a scary place, even for seasoned fitness pros. Between the flashy labels, countless “special” blends, and uncertain regulation, it’s no surprise that a lot of people choose to avoid the supplement aisle altogether. But Examine.com, a health and nutrition research aggregator, claims to have solved that confusion with a "Human Effect Matrix." The color-coded, easy-to-read matrix makes getting supplement info more accessible than ever. We take a look at the Human Effect Matrix and what it means for the future of nutrition.
What It Is
With roughly 150 pages devoted to supplement facts and more than 17,000 citations backing them, Examine has become a respected resource for health and fitness buffs looking for info on a range of nutritional supplements. While all that info is great for industry insiders, it can seem a little overwhelming for the average reader just looking for a quick, reliable answer on whether, say, creatine is a good call. But the Examine team is hoping to change all that with the Human Effect Matrix, an easy-to-read table that provides background and effectiveness ratings for every supplement in the website’s database.
Take Examine’s entry on fish oil, which now includes a matrix that lists its benefits from most concretely supported to least supported. For example, decreases in both blood pressure and inflammation were rated “A” for evidence, whereas metabolic rate was given a “D”, meaning it’s unlikely the popular supplement will rev up a person’s calorie burn anytime soon. The table also links to the most relevant studies for each effect, along with a handy list of editorial comments summarizing what researchers know so far.
The matrix also lets users search by desired result — for example, “Power Output” — and see which supplements have the greatest ability to achieve the desired outcome. According to Examine co-founder Kurtis Frank, the system allows users to “directly compare the potencies and reliabilities of all these supplements, all in one place.”
Is It Legit?
Yes. In a space where research all too often plays second fiddle to sensationalism, we’re calling the Human Effect Matrix a win for everyone. Granted, the system is still new and has limited reach; according to Frank, they’ve only indexed about half the popular supplements consumers are likely to encounter (more entries are on the way). But by making the science behind supplements a little more accessible to the average reader, Examine’s team is helping to bridge the gap between good research and good information.
Examine’s team is still small (just four people, most of whom work part-time), so the company is focusing efforts on building out their existing platform and pages before tackling any new projects, Frank says. If the Human Effect Matrix becomes a trusted and simple way of sharing informaiton, we’re excited to see what they cook up next.