It’s Time to Talk about Our Trust in Health Supplements.

As of 2024, there is still no public consensus on what it truly means to be healthy. However, there is one thing that consumers can agree on – the power of labels that tout “clean” and “natural” ingredients. But, is this power real or imagined? Why is there such a profound faith in these products? Let's explore it.

In 2020, research highlighted a growing consumer preference for “natural, clean” products (McKinsey & Company, 2022). “And in many cases, consumers value these attributes even more than product efficacy.  Around 30 percent of respondents said they would prefer natural and clean over effective (McKinsey & Company, 2022).” 

You can see this happening in the wellness industry. Take supplements for instance. Partly because of how they’re marketed, consumers see tablets as safe or clean.  Many people worldwide use dietary supplements, and most think that dietary supplements, especially natural products, are safe.

However, many people use dietary supplements with an inappropriate perception of their safety and efficacy. In a 2022 survey, consumers strongly agreed with the following statement: “Supplements are safe because they are natural (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022).” 

Furthermore, there is a huge reliance on these supplements.  A 2018 study found that 75 percent of U.S. individuals take dietary supplements (Council for Responsible Nutrition, 2018). But, according to Statista Consumer Insights, only 50% of Americans claim that they actively try to actively eat healthy (World Economic Forum, 2023). More simply, consumers would rather rely on a supplement for health than change their diet.

Why is it so hard to change eating habits?

Psychologist, Dr. Megan Call states, “Behavior change is complicated and complex because it requires a person to disrupt a current habit while simultaneously fostering a new, possibly unfamiliar, set of actions. This process takes time—usually longer than we prefer. Something as simple as drinking an extra cup of water a day can take an average of two months to become a consistent, habitual behavior.” So, when it comes to pursuing health, it seems like people opt for the convenience of supplements rather than forming new health habits.

Is it easier to believe that health is as convenient as taking a supplement?

In truth, health is a journey.But, in a recent Mythbusters: Convenience report, 82% of shoppers say convenience is extremely or very important to them.So, when faced with the choice of a health journey versus a convenient fix, the choice is obvious. In fact, Euromonitor states that “convenience is a leading motivator for dietary supplement use in North America.”More simply, there is power in the idea of convenience – so much so that it can change our beliefs and thinking around health. So, when we see product labels that say “clean” and “natural,” many want to believe that is a convenient path to health. It’s easy to think, “If convenience brings comfort; It can also bring health.”

But, what does it truly mean to be healthy?

In truth, health can be made convenient in some ways, but there is no easy solution or “one-size-fits-all” way to be healthy. Combined with diet and routine, health is a journey of finding what works best for you and your body. 

This is called “bio-individuality.”Bio-individuality means that we are all unique, and it recognizes and honors that we all have biological differences. We all have unique needs for nutrition and daily routines to be healthy and happy (Institute for Integrative Nutrition, 2021)Being healthy requires us to accept where we are and acquire knowledge about what works best on an individual level. 

It also requires that we make time for ourselves and put in self-care practices. When it comes to the self, being healthy takes time, and thought. There is no “simple,” “clean,” or “overall” solution to health. There is not much evidence supporting that supplement will have a benefit on overall health.That’s why, “It's best to improve the diet before using supplements.” Even though some perceive supplements as equivalent to food (Harvard Health, 2020), vitamins and minerals are most potent when they come from food. 

“In food, they are accompanied by many other beneficial nutrients, including hundreds of carotenoids, flavonoids, minerals, and antioxidants that aren't in most supplements. Plus, food tastes better than supplements and is often less expensive (Harvard Health, 2020) .”

The food we eat also plays a very essential role in our quality of life, our attitude, and mood (Gangswitch, 2020).So while convenience brings us quick comfort, having a nutritious diet can actually sustain the real happiness and personalized health we deserve.


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