Claims from nutritionists and scientists that our diets are missing key nutritional content is one of the largest factors driving the supplement industry. The supplement industry feeds off of these statements to push their alleged health claims on the public, and consumers often dogmatism approach to health makes it even easier to sell their supplement products (whether or not they’re actually necessary). Michael Pollan, someone who argues heavily against what nutritionists are doing with their new ideology of nutritionalism, even encourages the use of a multivitamin-and-mineral pill. Of course, Pollan explains his reasoning behind saying that it’s “probably a good idea” to include supplements into our diets with a lesson on natural selection. While it’s true that our body’s ability to take in nutrients efficiently is lowered with age, the failure to include that modern day supplement use could be more hazardous to our health than beneficial is concerning.
For instance, supplements lack regulation by the FDA and this has led to there being over 50,000 products to choose from on the market today. Unlike other food and drug products they are not subject to safety and efficacy testing. The biggest catch? Those products don’t require prior approval by the FDA before they hit the shelves.
This raises the question, “Is that multivitamin that you’re taking actually as good for you as the label claims?”
This is a complex question that doesn’t have a clear answer unless the person choosing to take said supplement has done their research on the adequate amount needed for their body to function properly. And let’s be honest, most of us don’t know that correct amount.
We live in a society that is flooded with supplement products claiming to be good four our health, produced by companies unqualified to make such claims. We as consumers must take a moment to evaluate our need for supplements, and decipher whether we are taking them without first consulting more ‘natural’ fixes or educating ourselves on the product we are about to purchase.
Education isn’t a cure all, of course, but knowledge is a form of power and that power is what leads to a call for action to end practices that are doing more harm than they are good for the public’s health.
I definitely think this is a topic that requires more individual research after reading Pollan’s book. It is interesting that we also receive the same advertisements for vitamins as we do for food. Commercials advise men, women, and children to all take specific vitamins shaped for their stage of life. But, as with food, aren’t we the best to decide what we need?