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The year was 2015 when my grandfather, who I love dearly, almost choked to death trying to swallow a multivitamin. What began as a normal day soon turned into a fight for survival when a large tablet-based multivitamin lodged perfectly in my Grandad’s throat, blocking airflow and sending waves of panic through his body. Thankfully, the large tablet was rescued from his throat and airflow was re-established. After the emergency subsided, I considered the grand irony of the situation. Here I was attempting to be the health crusader of the family, providing my grandfather with what I thought was the best “whole-food” multivitamin on the market, and I ended up almost killing him. Death by nutrition… what a concept!
Not too long after this harrowing event, my grandfather was diagnosed with a condition called benign esophageal stricture, a narrowing or tightening of the esophagus. This condition is thought to be caused by repeated irritation of the esophagus, often by acid reflux or exposure to too much radiation. Over time, this repeated irritation causes scar tissue to develop, which narrows the esophagus, making it very difficult to swallow.
It turns out that my grandfather is not alone when it comes to the inability to swallow large tablets / pills. This is a struggle experienced by many people today. In fact, according to a 2015 FDA report, it is estimated that over 16 million people in the U.S. have some difficulty swallowing. In addition, a survey suggests that difficulties swallowing pills may even be more widespread impacting as many as 40% of Americans. While the size of the tablet or capsule is usually cited as the main culprit for the swallowing difficulty, the shape or texture can also be to blame1. For people like my grandfather, flat tablets can be especially difficult as they are prone to sticking to the esophagus, not only posing a choking hazard but can also sometimes lead to injury / ulceration.
You may be like me and have loved ones that desperately need supplemental nourishment, but they struggle with being able to take the supplements you offer them. I’ve often found that when people need nutritional supplements the most, they’re often unable to comply with taking them due to challenges that exist. Perhaps the pill size is too large. Maybe the supplement doesn’t agree with their digestive system and makes them nauseous. The list could go on and on. One thing is for sure: if they’re unable to comply with taking a supplement, regardless of its quality, nutritional benefits will be very difficult to obtain. Most of us agree that supplements should be secondary to a balanced and nutritious diet. Supplements should primarily be used to fill in nutritional gaps that exist. However, real life has a way of throwing some curveballs our way, doesn’t it? Family life is not always so black and white.
It is sometimes easier said than done to get your loved ones to eat a plant-based, wholesome diet. We can probably all agree that there are some major nutritional gaps left in the Standard American Diet of today. According to a 2017 report released by the CDC, just 9 percent of U.S. adults meet the daily intake recommendations for vegetables2. This is especially shocking when you realize this percentage is based upon the federal nutritional guidelines of just 2 – 3 cups per day of vegetables, which includes beans and starchy foods like potatoes.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are where we humans get the bulk of our micronutrients, those essential vitamins that the body can’t make on its own. Without adequate intake of these essential nutrients, our cells can’t possibly function at peak capacity. Knowing this, many of us turn to a multivitamin as a nutritional insurance policy for ourselves and our loved ones to make sure that we’re covering the bases. But what do you do if you have a family member like my grandad that can’t swallow a regular-sized pill-based multivitamin?
Never one to miss a good economic opportunity, the dietary supplement industry has responded to this need by creating a plethora of chewable or gummy-based multivitamins. These chewable multis have now flooded the marketplace. Perhaps I should be grateful that a new option is available for people to receive their daily micronutrients. However, the purist in me can’t help but look at the “other ingredients” section where I see a long list of added sugars, flavorings, and preservatives. Am I being too stubborn? Should I just relax and assume that a dose of vitamins in a mix of processing agents and additives is better than nothing? Nope, I can’t relax on this.
A multivitamin is consumed to make a positive nutritional contribution to the health and wellbeing of the individual consuming it. Taking a multivitamin is not a recreational activity. Full disclosure… I do occasionally consume foods that may not be nutritious or healthy. I certainly enjoy an occasional pizza pie at my local pizza parlor, most likely full of processed ingredients and artificial additives.
In fact, I may seem like a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to matters of health, but I don’t view it this way. You see, when I occasionally dine at a restaurant that may not be the healthiest, I recognize that there is a factor of personal enjoyment present, often a social element as well, enjoying a meal with friends or family. When it comes to a nutritional supplement, however, especially a supplement that I’m giving to the people I love the most in my life, I see this as more sacred. In my mind, taking a daily whole-food multivitamin should be an area of human life that is 100% a positive contribution to one’s health.
My preference for dietary supplements that are clean-manufactured and free of unnecessary additives played a major role in leading me to NutriGold in 2016, where I am fortunate to get to serve in the education department. In 2017, it was announced that NutriGold would be releasing a brand new line of whole-food, organic certified multivitamins. Vitamins made from organic, whole foods… check! Free of chemical additives… check! And of major personal interest to me: delivered in easy-to-swallow size 0 organic capsules... check!!!
Even in the midst of my excitement for this new innovative multivitamin that covered all the bases, I couldn’t help but be apprehensive that my grandfather wouldn’t be able to swallow it. Drumroll… I am happy to share that the One Daily Men’s Multi Gold has now been a daily component of my grandad’s life for the last year with zero swallowing issues or digestive disturbances. As you can see, NutriGold’s multivitamins are smaller in size than the standard 00 capsule which often encases capsule-based supplements.
In my travels to health food stores across the country, I frequently encounter health advocates that have family members with similar challenges. Many people have shared with me that they choose NutriGold’s multivitamins for the clean ingredients they contain. In addition, they also appreciate being able to easily break open the capsule and add it to yogurt or juice for their loved ones that have trouble swallowing capsules. Convenience is certainly key for achieving compliance over the long term.
Now, my next challenge is getting my grandfather to commit to taking the 3-per-day Men’s 55+ Multivitamin, which features a healthy dose of antioxidant-rich astaxanthin for his eyes, heart, and skin. As of right now, he says that the One Daily Men’s Multi treats him just fine. Work in progress. Stay tuned… 😊