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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Industry Friendly Pros and Cons

UPDATE 4 August: Following ABC World News story regarding supplements last evening I wrote to them stating my concern about thier bad journalism and their reporter's failure to interview any one directly related to the suplpement industry or qualified, such as myself, in the field of herbalism. 

The Nutrition Business Journal is a publication I receive regularly.  Today, based on the Diane Sawyer's news story on Consumer Reports most recent attack on supplements, they issued this response:

A Response to Consumer Reports’ Scary Supplements

There is a very clear takeaway from the cover story in September’s Consumer Reports (CR): Modern media thrives on fear. Modern media thrives on any number of heightened human emotional responses, but fear is one of the biggies. Add in a health scare, and you can (presumably) sell lots of magazines. consumer erportsIn a piece titled, “The 12 Most Dangerous Supplements,” CR profiles several adverse outcomes from consumers of supplements who ingested tainted or overhyped products that sent their bodies into dramatic disarray. One man in Signal Mountain, Tenn. took a general health supplement overloaded with selenium and his fingernails fell off. A woman in Bartlesville, Okla. took colloidal silver to fight Lyme disease and her skin turned blue. A man in Janesville, Wis. took Hydroxycut to lose five pounds and developed acute hepatitis. These are tragic outcomes, worthy of spotlight, and certainly worthy of a healthy dose of fearmongering to prevent repeat occurrences.

What seems less worthy is the prominence of this coverage, and the sure-to-become-viral nature of its impact. My father just emailed me a link to the story this morning, and the issue has barely hit the stands. Watch the nightly news this week, and you’ll have to fight back an impulse to clear out your medicine cabinet.

From my perspective, what’s most newsworthy about the news from CR is the immateriality of the supplements in question, a so-called “dirty dozen.” Colloidal silver? Kava? Coltsfoot? These are not mainstream supplement products. This is, yet again, a bright spotlight choosing to shine on the dark alleys and niche markets of the industry.

Here at NBJ, we thrive on research and quantitative results to fundamentally drive our colorful, insightful and qualitative commentary. In fact, CR cites our sizing of the overall supplement market ($26+ billion in 2009) in the first paragraph of the story. Here are a few more stats:

Top 3 Supplements by 2009 Sales Volume
Multivitamins, $4.8 billion
Sports powders & formulas, $2.5 billion
B vitamins, $1.2 billion

Dirty Dozen Supplements by 2009 Sales Volume
Kava, $20 million
Bitter orange, $20 million
Yohimbe, $10 million

The other nine are too small to track independently, so we lump them into an Other Herbs & Botanicals bucket.

To its credit, CR has a serious and important mission to protect consumers from the likes of colloidal silver and other supplements with dangerously inaccurate label claims. I do not mean to disparage CR’s right and duty to report a story like this. What I do want to suggest, for CR and the rest of the modern mainstream media to hear with wide-open ears, is this: The supplement industry is too big and too nuanced now to paint with one coarse brush. There is earnest and important research happening around the 12 least dangerous supplements, whatever those might be, and reporting of that nature might be more useful, though less frightening, to a population of consumers looking to stay healthy in a broken health care system.

Let’s talk more about the $2.5 billion market for sports supplements, which CR rightly highlights as more prone than others to adulteration. And let’s talk more about the supplements CR profiles as popular and “likely” safe. There are some material sales levels at play here, so I’ll close with a few more stats:

CR’s 11 Supplements to Consider by 2009 Sales Volume
Calcium, $1.2 billion
Cranberry, $78 million
Fish oil, $976 million*
Glucosamine sulfate, $803 million**
Probiotics, $527 million***
Psyllium, $89 million
Pygeum, $7 million
SAMe, $123 million
St. John’s wort, $57 million
Vitamin D, $425 million

*NBJ tracks a collective fish/animal oil.
**NBJ tracks glucosamine with chondroitin.
***CR lists lactase and lactobacillus, which NBJ does not track independently.

As always, NBJ welcomes your comments.
Related NBJ links:

‘09 Sales Growth Sputters in Every Nutrition Category as Economy Takes its Toll
2010 Nutrition Industry Overview Web Seminar
Supplement Research

ORIGINAL POST: I find it very interesting when I see a major - and often global - corporation influencing Congress to achieve industry friendly legislation and big tax breaks.

For a very longtime, maybe more than twenty years now, these same influence-peddling, handout-seeking businesses are in bed with DC agencies, and many of their staff attorneys are writing the legislation that gets forced down the throats of the people.

A couple of items are on this list for me, one being the cellular industry, and a second being supplements.

We know the telecommunication giants wrote the recent telecommunications bill and for this reason alone you can point your finger at these folks for blocking health as an issue to prohibit putting up cell towers and proliferating antennas in your neighborhood or at your child's school. 

The flash point is that the cellular folks do know that these EMF generating devices do harm your health.  You can find the data in their patent applications.

At the same time your health is under attack by Big Corp, your right of access to health care of your choice and your right to use supplements for health is attacked.  These attacks are ramping up as Big PhRMA moves in to take over this lucrative market, and the companies that have made them for decades.

Examples are Nature's Way that was taken over probably 30 years ago now.  And the buyouts haven't stopped.

Following on this move, Big PhRMA tries to limit competition by patenting vitamins and selected constituents of  natural substances that have maintained health for centuries.

The next move comes in the marketing of expensive prescription supplements like the newly advertised Lovaza.

And all the while they try to undermine your thinking by telling you supplements are bad and they all are contaminated -

U.S. dietary supplements often contaminated

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Many popular dietary supplements contain ingredients that may cause cancer, heart problems, liver or kidney damage, but U.S. stores sell them anyway and Americans spend millions on them, according to Consumer Reports.
The consumer magazine published a report on Tuesday highlighting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's lack of power to regulate such supplements, and said the agency rarely uses what little power it does have.
The report from the influential group urged Congress to speed up small moves toward giving the agency more clout, especially in regulating supplements.
Despite the "natural" labels carried by many of the supplements, many are contaminated.
Yet Americans flock to take them, according to the magazine, citing the Nutrition Business Journal as saying the market was worth $26.7 billion in 2009. Read more...
I've been using supplements since the 1950s.  I know what the health food market place was like long before the current state of affairs.  I often shudder at what and where people buy product, but for the most part the mass public is less than properly informed.

Their education isn't helped by ignorant health practitioners, government agencies in bed with the corporations, or biased media articles.

Yes, some supplements (herbs as mentioned mostly in this article) are questionable.  Relying on China for your products can be dicey, yet we have so little choice since Bill Clinton brought us NAFTA and GATT.

ADM profits are up and they corner the soy and canola market, mostly GMO, and they are dumping these ingredients in "plant sterol" hyped items that are supposed to heal you of everything.

The list goes on and the media, especially AP, play right into the propaganda machine.  Yes, they do want to limit your access to supplements in case you didn't know.

The gist is, you really have got to start learning more about what's in your supplements, why you use them, and the best forms of products to use to achieve the end result you seek. 

You can't learn this from Mike Adams!

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