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What supplements are wealthy people using to get ahead?

Is Ozempic right for you? The miracle weight loss ‘supplement’ wealthy people are using and more! This final blog post in our series examining the relationship between health and success looks at trends in the effectiveness of vitamins and ‘supplements’. From Ozempic use by Elon Musk to Gwenyth Paltrow getting IV drips that add up to thousands of dollars, Hollywood is always on some sort of trend. This week we’ll be looking into vitamins and supplements as a whole along with current supplement trends.

A 2022 market report from Mintel revealed 38% of Brits take vitamins, minerals or supplements daily and 49% of UK adults say money concerns make it harder to follow a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and supplements.

As a reminder, there is a positive relationship between health, success and wealth, and for the past nine weeks we’ve been looking at topics which link health and success, but throughout the weeks common trends that enable health include access though financial means.

How do vitamins support longevity?

It will come as no surprise to you that one of the first things I discovered this week is that people with higher incomes spend more on vitamins and supplements. This article from Elle even tells the story of one woman spending £50 per week on a personalised supplement plan (which to be fair was the least shocking number).

What’s surprising about this is vitamins besides Omega-3s and folic acid are the only vitamins linked to longevity. Magnesium is linked to healthy ageing and there are a few other vitamins linked with a healthy metabolism or memory (like B12), but the research is inconclusive and most point to multivitamins being a waste of money unless there is an existing deficiency. Some studies even show negative health consequences to having too much of certain vitamins in your system.

When used as a band aid for negative health-promoting behaviours, vitamins are likely unhelpful.

So why are wealthier people spending more on supplements?

Wealthier people have healthier behaviours in general such as exercising more and having higher quality diets. Although supplements might not actually be better for health, they are widely believed to be. It’s possible using vitamins in a regimen of healthy activities might help reinforce the identity of a healthy person.

Another guess is what is considered a supplement is blurry nowadays. Wealthy people in the study spent more on supplements and this term was used as an umbrella term. It turns out, wealthy people are more likely to turn to supplements as a solution to fix their problems in general. My guess is this is because of access.

When looking into supplements, it was hard to overlook current trends of weight loss drugs and steroids. Although these aren’t necessarily “supplements” and are in fact powerful drugs, they’re being used as supplements for the rich and famous.

What else could be considered a supplement?

Some concerning recent trends include the use of Ozempic, which is a type 2 diabetes treatment currently used as a celebrity weight loss drug. Jimmy Kimmel joked about the Oscar’s stating “as I look around this room, I have to question, is Ozempic right for me?”

The drug has been used by Elon Musk publicly. Ozempic is taken once a week as an injection. It increases the levels of incretins (a hormone) which helps your body produce more insulin when needed. The active ingredient in Ozempic is semaglutide, which works by inducing satiety. This feeling of being satisfied or “full”, suppresses appetite. This is why it works for weight loss.

This trend is particularly concerning given what we learned about the lack of access to the healthcare system last week for people in lower income brackets because people who need Ozempic aren’t getting it due to shortages.

What other ‘supplements’ are people using?

Patients in wealthier neighbourhoods are much more likely to pick up prescriptions for lifestyle problems like erectile dysfunction, baldness, anti-wrinkle Botox injections and an eye medicine that thickens eyelashes. Of course, with society's pressure on appearance, it’s unfair to judge anyone for taking these lifestyle drugs. Many famous men also use steroids to acheive phisique goals and income follows if the drug is effective for them.

The problem is if a wealthy person uses steroids, Ozempic or similar, and has side effects, unlike the average person, wealthier people have the means to correct health problems from these drugs if something goes wrong. An average person will likely be left with side effects, the original problem returning and debt.

I do personally wish there was more transparency around usage of steroids, Ozempic and other 'supplements' to manage public expectations, but Abbey Sharp, a Canadian dietician made a good point in a recent video. She stated that because drugs and surgeries are making certain bodies more attainable, a new status symbol is becoming how you got there versus the end result, which is likely not going to stop people from taking them, but will keep people lying about them.

Key takeaways (keeping in mind I’m a 24-year-old woman without a medical degree)

1. If you’re using vitamins and you don’t have an existing deficiency, don’t bother (except omega-3s or folic acid)

2. Adopt small healthy behaviours to shift your identity towards being a healthy person

3. When you see celebrities or influencers online, know that most of them are lying to you about how they look the way they look. Really. With what’s on media I default to believing people are lying, and I believe I’m more realistic for it.

4. Seriously consider taking any strong supplement with long-term side effects. You might yield short-term gains, but you also might have long-term side effects that you can't undo

Enjoyed this post?

Thanks for reading. This concludes our health and success series. Next week we’ll be looking into gender differences starting with: Can men and women really be just friends?

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