In recent years, the vitamin and food supplement industry has been rolling hundreds of millions of dollars annually. This industry takes advantage of the fact that the average consumer is misinformed and does not fully understand whether the human body really needs supplements. For many consumers, the main source of information about the sub-ject is advertisements and other promotional materials produced by the industry’s market-ing and sales executives.
The purpose of this essay is to set the record straight and raise two critical ques-tions: (1) Are supplements really necessary for our bodies? (2) What is the meaning of the marketing and sale of supplements in their present form?
To answer the first question, we will use as an example two of the most heavily sold supplements of our era: vitamin D and melatonin. Vitamin D is produced by the skin through exposure to sunlight. The vitamin plays an important role in our body’s function, by increasing its calcium and phosphorus levels and contributing to the construction and protection of our bones. Thus, low levels of vitamin D (the result of insufficient exposure to sunlight, advanced age, etc.) lead to such symptoms as muscle and bone pain, or bone mass softening and dilution. In the past, such low levels were particularly dangerous for children, as they led to Rickets (a condition in which the body’s bones become soft and twisted). Since residents of many countries do not get sufficient exposure to sunlight, and because many of us spend most days in closed spaces with minimal or no sunlight, our bodies need a vitamin D boost of an average of 700 UI (international units). It is im-portant to understand that exposure to sunlight, even for a short time, will give us much more than we could gain by ingesting supplements. In addition, we can increase vitamin D in our body by eating yolk (which we tend to avoid or minimize, as doctors would like us to do in order to keep cholesterol levels in check). Eating certain types of fish will also give our body a vitamin D boost.