By Carter Brown
It used to be that everyone took a multivitamin just because it seemed like the right thing to do. That actually made perfect sense as food quality (and safety) took a precipitous dive in the late 80s to the early 2000s: people were eating worse and definitely needed to be supplementing their nutrition. During that time, the vitamin industry experienced exponential growth. Since not enough of anything good for you came out of junk food nation, some folks felt they could offset their poor diets with vitamins. But vitamin supplements weren't really the best quality back then. Well, it’s 2014 now, and I must say, things have changed for the better all across the board.
But what really has changed?
A lot. People opened their eyes to the alarming number of preventable sicknesses that were escalating because of poor eating and they decided to make some changes in what they eat as well as in their preventative health care routine. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Our lifestyle in America is bombarded with toxicity coming from virtually everywhere in our world. Our best chance to actively combat these environmental toxins is to eat healthy, exercise, and stay positive. But how easy is that? Supplementing has become a critical part of healthy eating because of how hard it has become to find high quality, nutrient dense foods locally.
Not too long ago companies were putting low quality, often chemically derived, nonabsorbent vitamins in capsules and selling them to unsuspecting consumers who thought they were doing something good to improve their health. One of the biggest examples of that has got to be Flintstones multivitamins. There are parents who still think this stuff is good for their children. Turns out that stuff is filled with chemically derived ingredients and GMOs that potentially do more harm than good. These are vitamins that people give to their children with expectations of maintaining and improving their health. What a farce! Michael Jackson said it best, "They don't really care about us."
New Age Supplementing
New age supplementing means that consumers are more conscious about active and inactive ingredients. It means that, while the vast majority of Americans still believe the hype that we see on TV commercials, there's a continuously growing population of people who are breaking away from being zombies and are interested in learning what's actually healthy rather than just settling for what's convenient. Boy how some of these corporations are pissed about that! But they always adjust: they are now buying up all the good and wholesome companies to ensure that they're not missing any profits in this new boom of healthy eating and living.
It used to be that if you bought the highest priced version, you'd feel comfortable about buying the best. But that can be misleading. Your typical grocery store is not a Mercedes Benz dealership. Chances are that if it's not a health food store, the most expensive anything is still only high priced, genetically modified (GMO) junk. About 70% of everything in these supermarkets contains some form of genetically modified organism. That’s a large figure!
A once underdeveloped market that only catered to hippies has now taken off nationwide and this has taken place because people are now saying, "Hey! That's not healthy! Where can I buy a healthier version?"
Out with the chemicals and in with the natural
You're stuck in zombie vitamin land if you look on the back of your vitamins or supplements and it's chock-full of these ingredients: oxide, sulfate, benzonite, fumarate, corn starch, and aspartame, just to name a few. People just never had a good definition of what proper supplementing should consist of, but these days they know it doesn’t include 300 chemicals, preservatives, or GMO ingredients. We’re moving past this phase of consumerism, but unfortunately a lot of these supplements are still on the shelves.
Natural means a lot to consumers, but companies are lobbying for it to mean whatever they want it to mean. If you look around at your health food store, you'll see there's no shortage of "healthy" supplements and products for sale. If there's money to be made, someone is in the business of it. I won't be negative, though because I certainly look for the best products to help me maintain my health. Pretty soon I'll be off on a farm growing all of my own food organically, in mineral rich soil, but until then, you'll find me at the health food stores.
As far as vitamins and supplements go, I look for all natural, organic, plant-based supplements. That's a profile that is sometimes hard to match up because of milk ingredients and gelatin capsules. But this community of vegan conscious consumers has spoken quite loudly and things have already begun to change in our favor. Manufacturers are responding to the demand for vegan. Vegan makes sense and even people who aren't vegan feel more comfortable taking supplements that are labeled as vegan. I’m thankful for these changes, because with my schedule I can’t always eat a kale and avocado salad for lunch. I feel better about not eating so well when I’ve had my supplement shakes in the mornings.