One Look at Why Supplement Sales Are Sagging

Judy takes supplements, visits an acupuncturist regularly, and seeks out spiritual guidance from various sources known to frequent health food stores and other wellness locales. Jake doesn’t take vitamins and only reluctantly visits complentary health care practitioners.

They have three kids, buy lots of organic food, recycle, are progressive and have the income to be able to mostly afford what they want.

The point isn’t to gossip. The point is that my friend Jake, smart, well read and committed to his health and well being sees no absolutely no reason to take vitamins or any supplements. He believes that there isn’t any proof or good evidence that they work. He believes that happiness, exercise and eating right will create a future that will more or less provide for the good health that he is accustomed to. In other words even among the demographic most likely shopping at Whole Foods and Wild Oats, supplements are viewed slightly better than snake oil, and just slightly.

I don’t disagree that eating right, exercise and being present to joy are vital EVEN paramount to well being. Yet what’s important here is that Jake’s reluctance to use supplements is at the heart of the continuing inability to grow sales despite the fact that yoga mat sales are growing faster than weeds in a country garden.

And Jake’s belief, as with so many others like him, long predated the recent year and a half of bad news (sometimes it was really just bad science and worse reporting but the impact was the same) about supplements.

So the obvious challenge to the industry is to keep educating. While stores like Whole Foods continue to grow sales, have they failed in educating customers about the value of supplements and the key role preventative nutrition plays in vitality? We’re not sure but we have our concerns.

Furthermore, how can we create more powerful alliances, to further the work of Mike McGuffin President of the American Herbal Products Association and Virgo Publishing’s Jon Beninger, who recently took over from leadership at the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance.

While Jake is a no to supplements stay tuned. Judy and I are working on him.

In the meantime the bigger picture question is how long it takes to create a public health policy that presents preventative medicine in the forefront of health care. And if you haven’t read about the DSEA study of last year see or search this site for DSEA and read about it here.


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