According to the 2019 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, the use of supplementation in the US has reached an all-time high. The majority of citizens take dietary supplements, proving that the position of supplementation in today’s care for health and wellbeing is vital.
On the other hand, there is no denying that the concern for Mother Earth is more present than ever before, particularly among Millennials. So, how would you feel if we would tell you that, more often than not, supplements have a devastating impact on the planet?
In this article, we’ll elaborate on that claim and show you how to be a more conscious consumer.
The severe consequences of Overfishing
Omega-3 fatty acids make a total of 16% of the supplements that Americans frequently consume. Don’t be fooled, it’s not a small number, especially when we take into account that close to 90% of the large fish that lived in the oceans are extinct due to overfishing. Some sources even claim that looking for cod in the Atlantic ocean is now similar to looking for a needle in a haystack.
So, the fish is mostly gone. And one of the consequences is algae overgrowth. This phenomenon causes dissolved (softened) organic carbon that harms coral reefs. While a large part of this could be attributed to the food industry, we must take into account that approximately 20% of all the fish caught doesn’t go to food purposes, and it is more likely used for supplements.
Vitamin C and Pollution
Vitamin C comes third on the list of the most popular supplements among Americans. The manufacturing industry can produce dangerous levels of carbon emissions if there is no sustainable supply chain and if the suppliers are not responsible and do not use sustainable growing practices. Being one of the main manufacturers of Vitamin C used for supplementation, China is facing this problem right now, as they are trying to reduce the environmental footprint with new policies.
Irresponsible Agriculture practices
The ingredients used for supplements that are produced on farms are often not grown sustainably. Some farmers are cutting down entire forests to cultivate certain types of plants. Many of them use pesticides and artificial fertilizers to encourage growth and get rid of threats. This can cause soil degradation and air pollution, all of which contribute to climate change. And let’s not forget the farmworkers who are often exploited and paid poorly for their hard work.
All things said, there’s no denying that supplements can be good for our health. By being more conscious consumers, we won’t have to renounce them to save the planet. We can have the best of both worlds, and here’s how.
Make the supplements yourself
How can you know the supplements you’re taking are not to blame for harming Earth? Easy – by choosing your own ingredients and making the capsules on your own. That way, you’ll be able to handpick the nutrients and herbs to improve your wellbeing, as well as to choose between vegan, vegetarian, and gelatin capsules.
Use other sources for Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits, which include alleviating anxiety and depression, improving eye health, promoting brain health, decreasing the risk of heart disease, and fighting autoimmune diseases. This makes omega-3 supplements essential for good health. However, they also have the strongest impact on the environment. This dictates finding alternate sources of these acids, which can be found in macadamia nuts, cashews, walnuts, beans, and algae, all of which are becoming increasingly popular ingredients.
If you are buying supplements, check for organic certification
Organic certification tells you the ingredients are sourced sustainably and manufactured without causing harm to the environment. The latest information from the Organic Trade Association’s Guidance on organic dietary supplements will tell you all the terms the manufacturer needs to comply with to be marked as “organic.” In short, some of the standards you need to have in mind are farms working on the regeneration of soil, the manufacturers using the by-products of the fishing industry, and recyclable packaging.
Many of the supplements and their ingredients are produced outside the USA, and the price of their transportation can weigh heavily on the environment. Because of this, it’s a good idea to do some research and try to find supplement manufacturers that source the ingredients locally.
Choosing between your wellbeing and the future of the entire planet is a big burden to carry for anyone. The good news is that you don’t have to. Just be conscious of the products you are using and their origin and try to make responsible choices.
Caitlin is a bookworm and a medical student. She is particularly interested in topics related to science, nutrition, and well-being. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and Universe, Caitlin is researching and writing about various health-related topics. She is happily addicted to art in all its forms, blogging, and grilled tofu. To see what Caitlin is up to next, check out her Twitter dashboard.
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