Last month, I finished a show on Netflix called (Un)Well, a docu-series about the issues of the wellness industry in the United States. I find it to be a good show and I think everyone should check it out. Though heavily centered on Western culture, I can’t help but relate it to ours.
In the Philippines, we have a rich wellness culture. From usage of ointments or essential oils like Katinko, Vicks, and other “healing” oils, using herbs and plants for medicinal purposes to food and dietary supplements.
A 2011 study found that the reasons why most Filipinos in Metro Manila take food supplements are to become healthy, to have more energy, and because the supplements they’re taking were recommended by doctors.
Meanwhile, Filipino consumers’ belief and reliance in health supplements just got stronger because of the pandemic. Since being sick is not an option these days, many consumers were found to hoard or splurge on multivitamins and other health supplements. As a result, sales increased.
Basically, more Filipinos became health-conscious and their faith in health supplements strengthened.
I hated taking supplements before because I didn’t feel the need and I was afraid of how it would affect my body. But in the past few months, I’ve been taking Vitamins C and E, as well as magnesium, fiber, and melatonin everyday. It’s not much compared to other people I know who take 10 or more supplements each day. But whenever I take my vitamins and supplements, I get that exhilarating feeling.
So what’s that feeling? An expert says it’s the feeling of “instant gratification.” Though Dr. Laurie Steelsmith was referring to the “drug culture” in America, she explained that it’s only natural that we all want to get what we want, the easiest and fastest possible.
Personally, I know that when something feels exhilarating, it becomes addicting. So, is it possible to become addicted to supplements? Experts say yes. Because if you reach the point where not taking vitamins makes you feel like you will get a disease or god forbid die, that’s when it becomes an addiction.
An expert explained it this way, “My definition (of addiction) is the compulsive use of a substance in the absence of any evidence that the product enhances health or that it is not harmful.”
He added that relying on vitamins and supplements becomes harmful when you use it as a substitute for developing healthy behaviors like following a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Negative effects were also found in drinking too much vitamins. For example, too much vitamin C or zinc can cause nausea and diarrhea while too much selenium can cause hair loss and mild nerve damage. There are also many supplements that may cause kidney disease if taken too much.
In my case, I’m trying not to be reliant on my supplements or over-the-counter medicines. The habit of taking a pain reliever whenever I feel something or drinking vitamins if I feel slightly tired, is hard to break. It’s a learning process for me until now. But it’s my choice to make changes.
So if you’re taking a supplement that’s prescribed a doctor, go for it. But if you’re only taking supplements for boosting your health, go for it too but make sure to do some research on the vitamins’ health benefits, side effects, and proper dosage.
They say your body, your choice. But be sure that you’re making the right choices.