It’s clear that many of you are supplementing, on top of trying to eat as best as you can.
The US is the world leader in supplement consumption with $20 billion spent annually, about 30% of the world market. We’re only 5% of the population, though. Japan in #2 in supplements, by the way. See more stats here.
With every man woman and child in the US spending $67 a year on pills, powders, and shakes, you’d expect us to be one of the healthiest countries in the world. Alas, that is not the case. Does that mean we need to supplement even more? Or perhaps take a better look at what causes us to buy supplements in the first place?
Many of you cite the need for specific nutrients that you don’t get from nature as the reason to supplement – vitamin D for people up north, or omega-3 for people who don’t eat fish.
But what many people don’t realize is that many times supplements can be ineffective or even harmful. The supplement industry is not regulated like the drug industry or even foods. Which means clever marketers can get away with much more than in the food world. Many supplements are manufactured using cheap synthetic versions of natural nutrient sources. Many pills are colored with fake dyes or flavored with artificial ingredients.
At Fooducate we don’t endorse supplementing. A lot of this industry simply feels like snake oil to us. That said, we realize there are cases where a person may need to add some vitamins or minerals (Folic acid during pregnancy, for example).
Ask yourself why you are supplementing? Is it the slick ads you see in magazines or TV? Did you walk into GNC and have a 25 year old salesperson convince you that pill XYZ has done wonders for her older sister?
If you’ve had tests done that show a certain nutrient deficiency, how about meeting with a registered dietitian to build a meal plan that will integrate the missing nutrients into your diet, through food?
If and when you do decide to supplement, make sure you buy from a good quality source, with no artificial ingredients.