The supplement business is big business. 

With the turn of the century, the supplement market has grown from strength to strength. Keen in delivering solutions to enrich your brain and body with ample vitamins and minerals to overcome any potential shortcomings.  As a billion-dollar industry (US$150 billion now, US$220 billion by 2027), humanity can no longer deny that supplements are everywhere. We are seeking more pharmaceutical aids for ailments and discomforts than before. As we browse through one of the thousands of e-commerce channels, we have a spectrum of nutritional assistance within reach. The market shot to commercial name and fame around the same time, the processed food industry entered the market with skyrocketing revenue numbers. The correlation between both industries rising almost at the same time is seen no longer as a coincidence.  Almost void of micronutrients, lacking dietary fibres, and nutritional values brought down to the bare minimum, compensating that what generations before us did not need is now the new trend. 

What many may not know is that the supplement industry is not falling under the same legislation as the food or the pharmaceutical industry. Anyone with an idea to create a supplement can market its product with little to no verification of the product’s validity. There is no regulatory body that confirms its content or peer-reviewed findings of its effectiveness. In all our lives, health plays an important role. Some say it while believing that a supplement will ease all their micronutrient shortcomings not getting from their take-away. Others are drawn to lift up their numbers to what they believe are acceptable standards. 

A multi-vitamin is one of the main supplements we are taking in the world. One pill to digest them all. The feeling we do something right about elevating our energy, health, and mind set to upgraded standards.

In short, we are regularly buying more and more supplements because we feel it benefits us in one way or the other. We buy micronutrients in a supplement form, because the food we consume may not provide us with enough micronutrients.

The danger lies not only here, most of us are not aware that it is a highly unregulated market. What is stated on a label may well be up to 80% off in terms of content and recommended daily dose. Or what is not stated on the label yet may well have found its way into the final product. Or what you swallow after a meal may have side effects because of ingredients you may be allergic to.

Should you consider taking supplements, ask yourself the following four questions:

Do I really need it?

While we aim for maximum health, too much of anything is never a good sign. The same goes for vitamins and mineral intake through supplementation. Numerous studies, including chapters in my course material, have shown that overdosing on supplements can have detrimental consequences on one’s health. Extra zinc, iron, and various vitamins may have a negative impact on both your internal works and mental capacity. 

Some labels may give you a daily recommendation you may not know whether you are already topping your, for example, Vitamin A uptake through your foods. Supplementation sounds great, but do you really need it?

Is it a reliable and peer-reviewed brand?

This is a big one. As mentioned, we all can start our own supplement brand and start selling it. You do not need a chemistry or biology grade to cook something up. Or send it over to a government-supported department for verification before shipping it out and earning a living. Fortunately, some governments have set up testing centres to validate and file all supplements in the market. The result is to get their exact content and whether it gets a seal of approval. 

The unfortunate side is that the supplement market is growing at such a rapid pace; that even these organisations are not able to catch up and categorise every supplement in time. Websites such as make it easier for consumers to search for reliable supplements and responsible brands.

What is the cost?

The investments in one’s health are never to be neglected. And the supplement market knows this. The manufacturing cost of some supplements with high-grade components may indeed be worth some spending. However, a lot of the non-tested brands have elevated their prices for the sake of commercial gain. It is connected directly to why those entering the supplement market can still enter the market without a legal supervisory association.

Marketed smartly, we often spend too much on something we may not need or are able to get from other sources that are regulated, offer more value, and may well be cheaper. 

Can I supplement my deficiencies with real food?

Our eating patterns have changed exponentially over the past decades. Particularly in what we eat and how this has shifted towards more processed food choices. It is no surprise that many of our sores, stomach upsets, and other physical and mental deficiencies are connected by the type of foods we eat, in what volume and what we miss out on.

Supplements may provide that boost, but is it worth the extra money and skipping a meal that comprises food that is, by default, loaded with vitamins and minerals?

Steve Jobs – Founder of Apple Computers – once said, “Eat your food as your medicine. Otherwise, you have to eat medicine as your food.” Supplements may not be directly categorised as food. And in fact, they are not. Yet, this statement may raise some eyebrows about what we are eating. 

Boosting our immune system, keeping our neural pathways working optimally, assuring that the bacteria in our gut continue to deliver stellar results, and more, eating real food in the appropriate quantity may just well be the solution for not taking supplements. 

To date, new findings of the revolution in the food industry and the connection on how vitamins and minerals impact our overall health are published to show the true value of eating real foods.

Humanity, however, is not always aware of the impact that supplements can have on one’s health. We feel it may be the right thing to do but lack the knowledge of whether it is really needed. We health coaches strongly recommend seeing a doctor ascertain what’s lacking in your diet before considering taking up any supplements. 

It is our job, with the information provided by your physician, to balance out the right amount where you can move along and create your own journey to thrive.

Niels Steeman

The Thrive Approach

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