Taken your vitamins lately?

Did you know consumers are fuelling a 20 percent annual growth rate in pharmaceuticals in North America? If you have stocks, you may have benefited from that.
But natural products have been edged out of the media spotlight, and languish on the shelves.
After a decade of double-digit growth, vitamin, supplement, and natural health booster sales have slowed a lot. Natural products have suffered from over-marketing and adulterated discount remedies.
According to “The Trends Journal,” people are hooked on quick-fix solutions to anxiety and depression–and impatient for preventions.
In the last decade, even while the economy flourished, with conditions better than at any time in modern memory, during peace and prosperity, more people than ever felt “out of kilter.”
Anxiety, depression, and various combinations of mental, emotional, and physical symptoms abound. Mental health experts cite stress as the culprit. Nothing new there, but why did we have so much stress even when things we going so well?
Here are a few factors:
•trying to balance the demands of family with all adults working or being a single parent;
•inability to turn off and cool down (e.g., using energy-saving household devices to get six times as much done in the same time);
•money problems–living beyond one’s means, or gambling with lotteries or stock markets;
•toiling at demanding but unsatisfying jobs; and
•preoccupation with personal and family economics rather than with quality of relationships and spiritual well-being.
Antidepressants are the most widely-used class of drugs today. Over the ’90s, these sales grew 20 percent per year. In the U.S., for 2000, they were at $10.4 billion.
Now, as the economy tightens again, political tensions grow, and more social structures crumble, the strain on people’s mental health will increase further.
Perhaps we in Northwestern Ontario are less susceptible to the tolls of modern life–but I doubt it. We have access to a gentler lifestyle but we don’t always choose that.
We can do a lot to safeguard our health better. Here are just two points from “The Trends Journal” (Summer, 2001 issue):
1. Watch for new remedy breakthroughs in anti-aging, immune system enhancement, and women’s health. Early products are glucosamine for bone health and soy products for middle-aged women.
“A new cycle of wellness consciousness is waiting in the wings,” according to The Trends Journal. One piece of evidence will be a host of new, well-researched natural products.
2. Take charge of your life. Turn to and nurture your friend and family support systems, make use of community networks and activities, practice voluntary simplicity, “get physical,” and sustain or rekindle your spiritual dimension.
All these can make you more immune to depression and other mental-emotional distress.
May summer vacations and cottage living contribute to a rethinking of priorities; and may fresh air be your best vitamin.
Linda Wiens is a conference and workshop facilitator, strategic planning consultant, and president of Quetico Centre.

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