My wife of 34 years takes an “over 50” one a day vitamin. Because I am funny that way, I calculated out that this costs us about 6.6 cents per day, or $24.32 a year. It has all the basic vitamins that she needs and while it does not ensure her perfect health or vitality it seems like a reasonable cost for “an ounce of prevention”.
According to a recent Harvard survey 70% of adults use some type of daily supplement, a recent Harris Poll put the number closer to 86%. As Dr. JoAnn Manson at Harvard Medical School said, “Supplements are never a substitute for a balanced, healthful diet”. Yet, it is a simple and inexpensive thing that tends to build confidence that our basic nutritional needs are being met.
Some studies, for example, show that folic acid and B-complex vitamins may reduce the risk of stroke. The Physicians’ Health Study II published in 2012 showed that people who take a daily multi-vitamin for 11 years had an 8% lower risk of cancer and a 9% lower risk of cataracts – compared with a placebo group. The American Osteopathic Association urges caution when considering supplements as the industry is unregulated and there is a great deal of variation in quality and integrity among manufacturers. They encourage those who take any kind of supplement to choose those that carry a seal of approval or certification by a trusted, independent organization.
3 keys to making better choices are to avoid:
Fads: Fads like the Carnivore diet and Keto may help some people but for most people they are simply not healthy, balanced, or easy to sustain. The advice of most experts, and my mother, is to enjoy a fresh, balanced, and consistent diet as the best prevention. A Mediterranean diet has proven itself over many centuries, and in modern times, to be a healthy, nutrient rich, and easy to sustain option that also has the advantage of being delicious.
Excesses: The old cartoon character Andy Capp’s motto was “Too much of a good thing is great!”. Many things in small quantities are either beneficial or at worst not harmful. Almost anything taken to excess can be, and likely is, not healthy. Use caution and realize that if the touted benefits seem exceptional, they are probably not real. Generally, large doses of any vitamin are not recommended e.g. you can only process so much vitamin C (about 500mg) until it is simply washed away by your body as waste. Large doses of Vitamin D can be very dangerous – so check with your physician and do your research (beyond whoever is trying to sell you something).
Low- quality: Low-quality products are seldom what they seem. The market for supplements and vitamins is huge and growing. Anytime you have a lucrative market, little regulation, and people almost desperate for a solution to their problem you are going to find those that are willing to take advantage.
After the combination of diet and daily vitamin for our physical body, it is reasonable to consider our mental condition and how a similar daily vitamin might benefit our mind. I am not talking about a pill here, but something that positively impacts our mental health. As Plutarch said over 2,000 years ago “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality”. Recognizing the inseparable nature of mind and body when we provide nutrients for our mind we positively influence and leverage every other aspect of our lives.
If you are not aware of a problem, what are the odds that you will overcome that problem? So, the first step is self-awareness. After awareness we must prioritize where and how we want to supplement. Like Maslow’s hierarchy if we start working on self-actualization before resolving safety and shelter issues, we will end up frustrated. But what is at the core of our mental health and power?
If we look to nearly every change model the core starts with personal motivation. There is consensus that self-efficacy and self-esteem are at the core of personal motivation, though more recent research has found significant advantages by focusing on self-compassion and self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the exercise of control and confidence in our abilities, and self-compassion is the combination of self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Strength in these core areas creates amazing benefits, including; feeling more energy, less shame, greater goal accomplishment, balance, less depression and anxiety, resilience, and more.
There a numerous high-quality tools and resources that can help the self-help oriented individual. For self-efficacy look for tools and programs that include balanced elements of self-mastery practice with immediate feedback, positive role modeling, and verbal persuasion. A great place to start is the Generalized Self-Efficacy Scale, if exercise is your focus the SEE Scale (Self-efficacy for Exercise) is helpful, or a bit more colorful and lighthearted “The Great I Am Worksheet” by Alexandra Franzen. For self-compassion I recommend starting with the Self-Compassion Scale – Short Form (SCS-SF) to enlighten your awareness then I recommend Dr. Kristin Neff’s book “Self-Compassion” which has specific exercises you can use to work on those areas you prioritize. You can also find lots of information and exercises at www.self-compassion.org.
For millions of people, however, they don’t have the core foundations of these skills to be successful with a self-help approach. Ideally these folks would seek the assistance of a trusted life coach or therapist to assist and support their development. The challenge is that there are millions more who need this support than there are those who can provide it (SAMHSA estimates a shortage of nearly 100,000 therapists), and for many people who might potentially have access the costs can be prohibitive.
For these people HVASF provides an affordable, effective, daily dose of motivation that you don’t have to do anything except what you likely already do – turn on your phone. With this daily dose you are primed mentally to take the further steps to accomplish your personal and professional goals. This small daily dose, “The Daily Vitamin for Your Mind”, can help you overcome your inertia and much more. Learn more and try it for free for 30 days at www.HVASF.com.