Social Supplements

By: Maude Magee

Who remembers sneaking more than the daily serving suggestion of those delicious sugar filled Flintstone vitamins when no one was looking?  Laughing at the bad jokes on Laffy-Taffy wrappers with your friends? What about thinking that if you were to eat a pack of Pop Rocks followed by drinking a soda your stomach would explode? Feeling like nothing in life could possibly be as devastating as when you push the straw too aggressively through your Capri-Sun, and out the other side? If yes, welcome to “Generation Millennial”, the largest demographic (by age) in the US as of 2016. If no, then you were probably the one raising this generation on Lunchables justified by making them their Flintstone Vitamins.

            Now this generation M has survived through the agony and many hours spent begging mothers to wear any jeans but the high wasted light-wash ones they had on because it just wasn’t cool; and is now a significant player in the adult world…most likely wearing their high wasted light-wash mom jeans.

            Almost every industry is looking at these 18 to 35 year olds. Millennials purchasing power, and a lot of it. Because of this, their preferences and dollars are playing a greater role in shaping industry trends and driving markets. According to the 2016 Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, 71%(+/-3%) of adults take at least one supplement a day.[i] This survey also found that the most popularly consumed supplements are the multivitamin, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium and vitamin B/B complex.

            What does this have to do with us? Let’s get informed!

            Our society tends to dive head first into the next nutritional supplement fad even when there is not a significant amount of research supporting the claims of the supplement. No U.S. government health agency, private health group, or health professional organization promotes regular use of any vitamins or minerals without first looking at the quality of a person’s diet.[ii] An article on WebMD covering the truth behind dietary supplements believes that one problem with society and supplements is that consumers may not be well cognizant about the safety and efficacy of supplements or do not understand the labels on products. [iii]

While supplements are not a bad thing, misuse of them can have negative consequences. The combination of limited knowledge, belief without scientific data, and generalized fads can lead to irreversible health consequences among many other undesired results. Diets and nutritional needs are so individualized it is almost impossible to say that someone needs to take a certain vitamin or they should take shots of apple cider vinegar every morning. Some people are unable to consume necessary vitamins and minerals from a restrictive diet. In these cases, dietary supplements are more of a filler than just another social obsession with the next thing that will help you drop 15 lbs in 5 minutes. If someone eats a balanced diet, then certain supplements can be a health risk due to overconsumption. For example, be particularly cautious with minerals and-fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Water soluble nutrients, like vitamin C, are either used almost immediately or pass through your system. However, the fat-soluble nutrients that are excess are stored in the body which then leads to a buildup.[iv]

            We can change the way our society views nutrition. Our pull in the major industries does not exclude the nutritional industry. Millennials may be wearing mom jeans but we are nutritionally far from where the US was back in the 90s. Imagine how much more there is to learn about everything that is involved with nutrition and dietetics! If we start to enforce an investigative attitude then maybe, just maybe, big changes will occur. No longer trapped in a cycle of fad diets and supplements, we then can obtain the vitamins that we depend on directly from food instead of a pill, powder, or drink.


References:

[1]  http://www.crnusa.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/CRN-WhoTakesDietarySupplements-2016data.pdf

[2] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/MVMS-HealthProfessional/#en35

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19957415

[4] http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-behind-top-10-dietary-supplements#2

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