IN THE BEGINNING consumers told the FDA, "Don't take away our vitamins!" And Congress conformed and passed DSHEA. It was 1994, and it was good.
2 And DSHEA – The Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act – said: Let there be supplements. And there were supplements. And the industry was freed, and it innovated, and it prospered. And in the post-DSHEA prosperity, there was light.
3 And botanicals did fall like manna from heaven, and the consumers did purchase them. And there was ginkgo and ginseng, and there was saw palmetto and valerian, and garlic and St. John's wort, too.
4 And DSHEA made the sports nutrition category sing, and there were tubs of protein powders, and there was creatine. And it came to pass that there was androstenedione lining the lockers of home-run hitters. Muscles rippled across the face of the land, and it was good.
5 And there was a people screaming in pain over arthritis, and their livers were crying out from too many NSAIDs. And DSHEA said: Let there be glucosamine. And there was glucosamine.
6 And there was a people getting fatter by the day. And there were trans fats. And cheap, subsidized carbohydrates. And super-sized sodas. And the people, they were bloated.
7 And there was ephedra, with caffeinated botanicals, and the combination brought forth weight loss. And billions were sold. And yea verily, the industry did rejoice.
8 Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree-yielding seed. And in the fruits there were antioxidants, and antioxidants became a household word. And there was açai. And pomegranate. And mangosteen. And of course there were blueberries. And tart cherries.
9 And the industry was given dominion over the fish of the sea, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, including the friendly bacteria in the bowels. And there were probiotics. And there was fish oil. And it was good.
Trials and tribulations
BUT THERE WAS a darkness upon the face of the industry.
2 And it was Big Pharma, aided and abetted by a lazy media. And it published a study comparing St. John's wort to placebo – and there was no difference. And it was so. But the study also compared a leading pharmaceutical to the two. And there, too, was no difference. And it was so. And the study looked at major depression, and not mild to moderate depression, which was what the herb was always used for. And none of this was reported in the media. And so St. John's wort fell from grace. And it remains so.
3 And there was a meta-analysis maligning vitamin E. And even though one-third of the study participants failed to take the vitamin, the researchers grouped them in with the rest who did. And when taken together, there was no benefit. But when only the two-thirds were counted, there was a great cardiovascular benefit. And it was along the lines of a 22 percent reduced risk of dying from cardio disease. And it was better than any pharmaceutical yet designed by man. And the media muffed it. And vitamin E fell from grace. And it remains so.
4 And there was Barefoot Bob huckstering coral calcium.
5 And there were superfruits everywhere, and there was açai on the Internet – pilfering from a people's credit cards once every moon, even if the people did not want to be fruitful.
6 And there were associations between ephedra and death. To be sure, when taken as directed and in accord with the science – 90mg/day, with no untoward pre-existing conditions – all would be well. But in America, the people were not well. And they were bloated. And the beach season was upon them. So they doubled the dose.
7 And the industry said: Let the FDA take ephedra away. And it did. And the industry saw that it was good. Because now the media couldn't call it "unregulated" anymore.
8 But they did anyway. Because they were slothful.
9 And there was economically motivated adulteration. And there was intentional tainting and indiscretions of sex-health products. And there was contamination of diet supplements with drug analogues. And there was misbranding. And there were unreliable C of A's.
10 And there were steroids masquerading as supplements. And there was androstenedione that took the blame – again, alas – instead of steroids, which brought down a home run king.
11 And what kind of industry is this that allows this to happen and just sits back and watches? Because everyone has a glass house?
12 And the FDA could not see into the hearts – or facilities – of companies in China. Or in Singapore. But 90 times could it in the States. So far. And there were Warning Letters from FDA. And the responsible industry blessed them. But not too much. Because everyone knoweth that a Cheerio is not a drug. And the science says 638 preschoolers who dranketh Dannon's DanActive with Lactobacillus casei for three months had 19 percent fewer common infectious diseases, but the FDA spoketh that to speak such words is tantamount to an unapproved drug claim. And that was bad.
13 And there was Good Manufacturing Practices. And they were expensive. And compliance was spotty. And companies will go under water. And contract manufacturers could benefit.
14 And where some perish, others prosper. And it was ever thus.
AND IN TEN and seven years after the gloried rebirth of our modern industry – this very year, right now – the industry was sore perplexed. And they were re-allocating resources toward complying with regulations and vouchsafing quality. And resources were going away from innovation.
2 And some saw it as a necessary recalibration, back to basics: quality.
3 But, too, this could be an opportunity for innovators to get ahead of the competition. Because recessions are not forever. And research marches on. And people are not ashamed – nay! – to try new things.
4 And the recommendations for vitamin D have multiplied, though not as much as we would like.
5 And marine oils, including krill, will continue to prosper. Fish oils will come home in foods, but leave the odors to the oceans. Krill will conquer supplements. Research will show DHA is favorable for sperm health. And every sperm is sacred. Unless research this year shows fish oils might be unsafe. Causes vascular hemorrhaging problems. Could resurrect the diabetes demon.
6 And probiotics research must continue so the research keeps up with the marketing. And marketers must make sure their message aligns with the R&D staff's word. And finished goods must all state how much of the probiotic strain is in the product at the end of shelf life.
7 And the FDA's "prevent, treat, cure" shackles and Warning Letters about drug claims can be circumvented by getting an independent, third-party, no-conflict blogger or media personality to tell the truth of scientific studies, and the word shall be protected by the First Amendment. So you can make those claims. If ye are wise.
8 And unwise sports product purveyors of 1,3-dimethylamylamine could be in for wrath if this suspect, synthetic ingredient continues finding its way into natural exercise stimulant products.
9 And beta-alanine could … go … all … the … way.
10 And from the fruits of the tree, we are given baobob. Out of Africa, OK'd by Euro and Yank authorities, we have our next emerging superfruit. And its name is baobob.
11 And also from the African bush, we have sceletium. Remarkable for its mood-altering effects, but also potential gastrointestinal upset. With sceletium, we shall see.
12 And if the meek shall inherit the earth, then the name of the new king is niacin. This B vitamin may be the most underrated and underappreciated ingredient in the entire industry. By sales revenue, it may be the biggest ingredient in the entire industry. So let us not neglect the old standby's.
13 And nutricosmetics will continue to grow verily. Because beauty-from-within is a catchy concept. And if the people cannot have their ephedra to subvert the bloat, at least give them another pill to make their skin shine. And wrinkles dissipate. And hair glow.
14 And it will be in Las Vegas in June where the NutriCosmetic Summit will bring players together. To network. To innovate. To prosper. Perchance to gamble.
15 And Asia will grow. Both because Western companies have outsourced facilities and labor to those cheap markets, and because those economies continue to flourish. So Eastern domestic markets are ripe. But get a partner first before going in.
16 And Nutracon Asia and Expo Asia will be events in August in Hong Kong. And it will be good.
17 And yea verily, these are media products of the New Hope Supply Network. And so is this magazine. And so is the NPIcenter Web site. And is Nutracon at SupplyExpo and Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim in March.
18 And you could call this a bit of shameless self-promotionalism. But did you not see the Harry Potter special on NBC last summer? Whose commercials were all about the new Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios? And NBC and Universal are in cahoots. Because this is America. And this is how we roll.
19 So let us go forth and innovate with integrity. With a nice science dossier to reinforce marketing claims. Because the people, they do need us. To make better-for-you healthful foods. And nutrient-fortified products. How about gluten-free foods that not only taste good but also contain functional fortificants like fiber or omega-3s? And energy drinks. And even relaxation drinks, to chill sans alcohol. And products that help the mind of man. And make them as old as Methuselah yet spry as Joshua. And ORAC-rich superfruits. And krill from the southern oceans deep. And vitamin D from the good sun. OK, actually from sheared sheep wool. But still.
20 And it will be good. Selah.