I’ve been always interested in history and the background of things. This website is focused on products used for supplementation of nutrition. So, I’d to like explore the reasons why nutritional supplements have become so popular during recent times.
It has been documented and often stated in numerous circles that the modern western diet is unhealthy and lacking in proper nutrition. But how did this phenomenon occur? And why has it grown to such proportions that millions of people use some form of supplementation?
Before the 1900s, the United States and the western world had an economy that was agrarian. Approximately seventy percent of the population farmed their own land, ate the sustenance, and raised livestock. People were self-sufficient.
The food was fresh with a maintained nutritional value. People didn’t have the modern concerns of toxic pesticides and fertilizers being used in the soil. Moreover, there wasn’t the option of consuming junk food or something that wasn’t a food of real value. The people were limited to their harvest and livestock.
There was a sense of self-dependence and community in that society. There was no reliance on the government nor trusting the production process of a multi-national corporation or a national supermarket chain.
The Industrial Revolution occurred during the late 1800s affecting all facets of life and industry, including food production. Factories and powerful machines increased the production speed of goods and enabled the swift transport of materials over a wide area. One of the effects of industrializing was people moving from rural areas into cities. The herding of people into large cities ended the agrarian society.
Dawn of Centralization
Mass production was one of the results of the Industrial Revolution, which led to the rise of supermarkets during the early 1900s. During this epoch the centralization of society occurred within all industries. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 centralized the banking industry and sent the United States on the path of being dominated by a select group of elite, powerful influences.
As the food industry adopted the mass production trend, self-service supermarkets selling perishable items became the common trend during the 1920s. There was a period of time during the late 1800s and early 1900s in which people shopped at a number of specialty stores, for example, a butcher, bakery, greengrocer, etc.
So, the final death knell was struck to the early American agrarian economy. The train roaring towards total centralization is impossible to derail once the wheels are set on the tracks.
Today, the food industry (like all other industries) are monopolized into a select group of entities. The seeds used by farmers are largely the products of companies like Monsanto. There are many controversies surrounding Monsanto and many lawsuits.
Moreover, the groceries bought at supermarkets and other stores are owned primarily by ten major corporations; as noted by the article in the link.
3. Proctor and Gamble
4. Johnson and Johnson
8. General Milles
10. Coca Cola
What is the problem with the monopolizing of the food industry? Whenever corporations or central bodies control anything the quality of the product and the interests of the people become unimportant; profits and blockage of entry are the only matters of concern to the ruling companies.
Naturally, problems and concerns have arisen over the past few decades concerning the health of the food being sold and its nutritional value. Hence, there has been a corresponding organic food movement and growth in the use of nutritional supplements.
History of Dietary Supplements
According to Catherine Price’s book, “Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food”, the term “Vitamins” first appeared in 1912.
Over the past century, researchers have determined there are 13 vitamins necessary for personal health.
The 13 essential vitamins your body needs are vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyroxidine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12). The four fat-soluble vitamins—A, D, E, and K—are stored in the body’s fatty tissues.
Moreover, Nutritionists claim there are seven 7 ingredients needed in a multi-vitamin supplement: Vitamin D, Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, Iron, Folate, and Vitamin B-12.
Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that most people are not consuming enough calcium, potassium, fiber, or magnesium.
So, the discovery of these necessary vitamins prompted public demand for products containing these items. Ideally, these vitamins should be consumed by the food eating in a person’s diet. However, the aforementioned decline of the agrarian society, replaced by the supermarket’s food that was lesser in quality and freshness began to create deficiencies in the western diet.
Hence, dietary supplements have been used to fill the void.
Health Problems caused by Lack of Nutrition
The World Health Organization (WHO) performed a study on diet and nutrition from January 28th through February 1st 2002. The findings determined that lack of nutrition caused the following health conditions:
1. Obesity – Decreased physical activity combined with excess calories from sugar, starches, and fat has created an imbalance resulting in increased obesity.
2. Diabetes – the aforementioned decrease in physical activity combined with obesity has caused escalating rates of type 2 diabetes.
3. Cardiovascular diseases – again, there is a correlation between physical activity and weight gain. A recommendation was made for reduced consumption of saturated and trans fats.
4. Cancer – the study determined dietary habits held a major influence over incidents of cancer… again weight was a key factor. There was a recommendation for increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables as a means of prevention.
5. Osteoporosis and bone fractures – Sun exposure (Vitamin D) was a recommended means of strengthening bones and muscles.
6. Dental Disease – limiting the use of sugar and the consumption of acidic beverages and foods would reduce risk tooth decay.
One Guy’s Opinion
I had practiced the dietary habits warned against by the WHO. Then, I changed my diet and began using various supplements. I try to gain as many vitamins and minerals as possible from the consumption of actual food. However, under society’s present circumstances there’s always going to be holes in a person’s diet.
Exercise, dietary changes, and the use of supplements have had a positive effect on my health. In my opinion, the use of supplementation through the use of pills, powders, tinctures, or other items will be a necessity for the foreseeable future.