One man's rant: Beware of the small print

I had some spare time on my hands the other day so I walked into a nutrition store in the mall. Life doesn’t come with instructions, so I don’t know why I didn’t stroll into an adult beverage establishment instead, but here I was standing on the threshold of thousands of supplements, unguents and additives that would energize, calm, cleanse and strengthen my corpuscles, my synapses, my mitochondria and a profusion of other body components I didn’t know I had. There was even a display of gummies for adults which is one of the most oxymoronic developments of modern times. I thought, in addition to being disgusting worm and insect shapes in a candy bag, that Gummy products were meant to encourage children to take their vitamins.

I read on one advertising chart that a hembrogenic imbalance could result in low energy. The complete antidote to such an imbalance, of course, were the little white boxes of capsules next to the ad chart. The small print on the ad chart vaguely indicated that the same imbalance could cause an irrational fear of squirrels. Well, I hadn’t had any meaningful contact with squirrels since my days in Reading, Pennsylvania, a chapter in my life which I’m certainly not going to discuss here. I remain confident that anything hembrogenic in my body is just as it should be, thank you very much.

In the Healthy Man section of the store, I encountered stacks of a DHEA (an abbreviation for dihydroepiandrosterone) product that’s designed for “men’s unique needs.” Other than beer, salted pretzels and a football game on TV, I couldn’t think of any unique need of mine that would be satisfied by something I couldn’t pronounce.

My eye was then drawn to a prostate supplement. It sounded like a pill you should only take when lying down, I wasn’t sure, and there was no one nearby to explain the whole thing to me. At first, I thought Saw Palmetto was doing a celebrity testimonial for the product since I remembered him playing shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles in the late ’70s. I think he hit 27 home runs in 1978. I then took a closer look at the small print on the supplement box and learned that Saw Palmetto didn’t play for the Orioles, but was an herb inside the pills used to promote urinary health.

Next to the prostate stuff I saw a colorful banner promoting an enzyme system that would “…help support a healthy inflammatory response.” The only time I encounter inflammatory responses is when I write a political column in this newspaper. I’d be willing to send a box of the stuff to certain readers with whom I disagree politically, but I doubt it would help.

There was considerable shelf space given over to solutions for joint pain and discomfort. A deep penetrating relief cream, for example, was designed for sore knees, shoulders, elbows, hands and other joints. I could understand the knee, elbow, shoulder and hand part, but wasn’t sure what “the other joints” might have been. And I was afraid to ask.

In the fitness corner, I had the choice of becoming “ripped” or “extremely ripped.” Neither option sounded all that pleasant. A general male nutrition formula there consisted of “maca root, Yohimbe bark powder and velvet deer antler.” I’m thinking a witch’s brew of eye of newt, filet of fenny snake, a toe of frog and wool of bat might be just as effective.

I shuffled out of the store and to my car in record time. No more nutritional small print for me!

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