Vitamin and herbal supplements amount to a multi-billion dollar industry across North America and Europe as everyone has become infatuated with the healthy, yoga-esque lifestyle - especially us, West Coasters. Vitamin A to Z, concoctions of natural wonder herbs, and even unusual ingredients such as snake oil are pushed toward us by companies, all promising that they are the end-all, be-all of making us semi-immortal, curing and soothing our ailments, and if anything else - the promise to project us into the best physical and mental state that we can possibly ever achieve on our own.
If you are anything like me, walking down the aisles of a vitamin store can prove to be a little intimidating, if not confusing. As I look up and down at the plastic containers with labels such as “Omega Ultimate Brain Power” or “Super Bone Strength”, I feel like I am shopping for super powers and that the right combination will truly make me into an unstoppable specimen of human. And with all things that seem a little ‘too good to be true’, I doubt the efficiency of any wonder drug but wish haphazardly for the ignorance to believe that health could be that simple. For $19.99, could I really ingest the solution to long, flowing thick hair and upgrade my vision to super acuity – how could I go wrong?
It seems like everywhere you look there is someone promising you a solution to healthy living in the form of a capsule or dissoluble powder, but how much truth can we take out of advertiser’s messages? They can’t all be lying to us, so how can we determine what is myth from truth?
When it comes to the vitamin and herb, and even medical, industry, “scientific truth” is a bit blurry. Validity of truth is varied upon the method in which the results are gathered. While some companies continue to research vitamins and the effect they have through logical and controlled settings, the massive demand in our industry for ‘quick fixes’ has tempted other suppliers to use less than reliable methods to prove the effectiveness of their product. Instead of using honest valid techniques of analysis, in which an experiment can be repeated reliably with the same result, these companies conclude their evidence by finding commonalities through coincidence, suggestibility or misdiagnosis, stroking our insecurities with promises of making us into lower grade pill-popping super heroes that we all strive for.
I am no health expert, by any degree, but my overall point is to be careful and wise. It is very easy to want to believe in magic in a capsule but not doing your research could actually have the opposite effect on your health, let alone your budget. Always be sure to contact a health professional before taking any health product, including vitamins or natural supplements, as it may be harmful to your health or conflict with previously prescribed treatments.
Think you are Vitamin Savvy? Take this little test to find out.
Myth or Fact: Organic vitamins are better than synthetic ones.
Myth or Fact: The more vitamins you take, the better for you.
Myth or Fact: By taking vitamins regularly, we don’t need to exercise.
Myth or Fact: If vitamins and supplements are taken, then you can eat whatever you want.
Myth or Fact: Supplements are safe otherwise they would not be on the market.
Myth or Fact: Taking vitamins is the best way to ensure health for us and our children.
Myth or Fact: Herbal supplements cannot be harmful because they are natural.
Myth or Fact: We can eat very little food if we take vitamins.
Myth or Fact: Vitamins are best taken on an empty stomach for maximum absorption.
(Photo of Man taken by Piotr Bizior - www.bizior.com)