Life Health

Vitamins aren’t always the magic pill

SABRINA MADDEAUX, 24 HOURS

(Blackzheep/Getty Images)

(Blackzheep/Getty Images)

The newest must-have trend isn’t a designer bag or an ultra-Instagrammable food monstrosity. It’s something your mom likely forced on you a six-year-old child: vitamins. Yes, something that seems so utterly unsexy is the lifestyle obsession du jour of the cool-kid crowd.

One look at a drugstore nutritional aisle confirms this isn’t simply about a daily dose of vitamin C or B12. There are practically endless options of what to take, what form to take it in and which brands to trust. Are vitamins’ new ‘It’-item status something that’s been long overdue or is this an ingenious marketing tactic by already rich pharmaceutical companies? Let’s evaluate the some of the biggest trends.

Capitalizing on the farm-to-table movement, a group of companies are pushing traceable vitamins. The idea is that, rather than consuming a pill concocted in a faceless factory with components from invisible suppliers, you can easily identify every portion of a vitamin and trace it back to its origin. This is one rising area that actually makes sense. If we avoid GMOs, toxic chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides on our plates, we should likely be concerned about those same things contaminating our daily vitamins. If you’re vegan or following a gluten-free diet, this traceability is even more important. We often forget that vitamins just aren’t pills that appear out of the blue– they’re often made of fruit, vegetable and herb extracts.

There are also many “streamlined” vitamins hitting the marketplace. Many traditional multivitamins contain 20 to 30 ingredients, many of which are redundant or unnecessary for the average person. New startups are making an effort to educate consumers about what they actually need, and offering pills with less than 10 essential ingredients. For a long time, we’ve been trained to think more vitamins must be better, but that’s definitely not the case.

This goes hand-in-hand with the trend of personalizing vitamin regimens. One vitamin does not fit all needs. It gets a lot more complicated than sorting vitamins by gender, age and whether you’re trying to get pregnant. The new personalized vitamin regimens take into account your activity level, daily diet habits, health goals and family history to tailor a cocktail that will actually fulfill your needs rather than just throwing darts at a board.

Some trends you should avoid? Waters that claim to have added vitamins (they’re overpriced and are more focused on marketing than actually delivering quality vitamins), gummy vitamins that tempt your inner child but contain more sugar than goodness and vitamins that make beauty claims that seem too good to be true.

When it comes to vitamins, it’s important to remember they’re not magic. They’re a combination of farming and science meant to make your body work better, not to be fun. Treat them like you would any other food rather than like beauty creams or snacks when deciding which new trends to follow.