please stop trying to supplement me
As Nicole Kidman giggles and prances across my TV screen in cowgirl boots toting a bunch of freshly dug carrots, I ask (out loud to no one): ‘Why does she need vitamins if she’s eating all those root vegetables?’
Why indeed. The ad is for Swisse and it is just one of the many “healthy” supplement messages being broadcast to me nightly as I ingest my dinner (with a side of Mad Men).
There are vitamins designed for women, pregnant women, women trying to get pregnant, men, men who are trying to get their lady friends pregnant and now, there are even supplements for kids. Our undernourished offspring are encouraged to take essential vitamins that are chewable and tingly. Who knew nutrition could be so much fun?
I mean seriously, people, come on. Is this how we adopt a culture of healthy eating? Unless you have a medical condition, your body can get everything it needs through food – preferably the crunchy kind. And going by my Instagram feed, most of my peeps are getting more than enough essential vitamins and minerals in their om nom noms.
Have we forgotten that a decent square meal – packaged up in lovely bowel-friendly roughage – can give you all the goodness you need? The big vitamin supplement companies seem to think so – and they’re cashing in big time.
A recent report on the sector, which includes acupuncture, chiropractic services, homeopathy and naturopathic medicine, forecast growth from annual revenues of $3.55 billion in 2012/13 to $4.6 billion in 2017/18 at a rate of 5.3 per cent per annum. Cha-ching!
I like to think I’m healthy – I eat quinoa. Damn, I even know how to pronounce it. But I don’t feel that popping a daily multi will have me dancing in the kitchen. What irks me (yeah, there’s more) is that there’s not a lot of second-guessing going on. We have celebrities and professional athletes endorsing krill oil, spirulina and horny goat weed with health claims wrapped in a thin veneer of marketing spin to make us feel like we want –and even need – these products.
Before I tickled my TV dinner delights with Don, Betty and the Madison Avenue gang, I indulged in a bit of The Biggest Loser. Sheesh, hello product placement.
One of the show’s personal trainers – or as I like to call her the “screaming at sweaty people until they puke” lady – is, to my surprise, listed on the Nature’s Way website as a health expert. Hmmm, yeah. Screamy Michelle recommends a restorative vitamin to take at night to help rest and restore and a cute mini vitamin that’s everything you need in a vitamin but, mini – that’s in her expert opinion. If you don’t believe her, they also have a three-minute “prescription tool”. Quack, quack quack.
I took it. I’m a healthy 33 year old non-smoking, teetotalling, yoga pant wearing woman who takes or needs no medication. Based on my responses, Nature’s Way recommended a ‘natural health prescription’ of five different supplements coming in at $97.30.
Hardcore puke woman then goes on to say: ‘Do you feel worn out, fatigued, not 100%. It’s no wonder, because the human body is not designed to withstand the constant pressure of each hectic day without eventually slowing down or burning out.’
OMG I hear you girl. Those slack early humans who just sat about having totally un-hectic days while doodling on cave walls and telling jokes around the fire might not have needed a Hairy Lemon to kick-start their day, but I f*cking do. I’ve got back-to-backs all day for Christ’s sake. I feel you Michelle, I really do – pass me a freakin multi-mini.
Unlike conventional (or real) medicine, alternative health therapies in Australia are very lightly regulated, so any old Joe can sell you snake oil to help you feel “more like you”. Next time you take one of those expensive little pills for “better wellness” (not better English, obviously) take a look at the colour of your pee. Neon yellow wee wee is what happens when you have an excess of the B vitamin riboflavin leaving your body. This has to go through your kidneys and it’s hard work. Show those organs some love – they deserve it. And the human body is really quite good at storing things like bum fat, emotional baggage and, vitamins and minerals, so there’s no reason for us to take them each day. The whole notion that you need a “once daily” is advertising agency baloney.
So before you reach for your complete A to Z, think: ‘Am I better off just having an über wanker kale salad with some activated almonds instead?’ I think so.