October 15, 2009

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A Dose of Nature

Health Supplements Boost Your Body and the Economy

By Candace M. Little

October 15, 2009

When the recession hit, many businesses changed plans, refocused marketing campaigns, con-ducted layoffs, pay cuts and many other strategies to get through the toughening economic climate. Just as our business health depends on planning and budgeting, so does the health of our bodies. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) daily consumption recommendations for the average adult include 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of low fat milk, 5 to 6 ounces of protein and 3.5 ounces of grains. These recommendations provide vitamins, protein, calcium, iron and other nutrients our bodies need to function properly. But if your only vegetable serving comes from french-fries and your fruit from a Diet Coke with lime, your body may be experiencing nutritional mini-recessions every day. While the best way to get nutrients is through food, nutritional supplements offer a good alternative, and may be the first step to a healthier body no matter how close you are to meeting USDA’s recommendations. Nutritional supplements come in all forms—pills, granola-like bars, juices, teas, gels and creams. According to Loren Israelson, executive director of the United Natural Products Alliance, there are about 100 direct selling health supplement companies in Utah—so it shouldn’t be too hard to get your hands on some product. A Healthy Trend One out of five Americans use some form of alternative medicine every day, and Israelson says new users of health supplements are searching for ways to improve their health. “A first time mom, someone hearing bad news about their own heath and someone hearing bad news about the health of a loved one—all trigger people to ask what changes they need to make to their lifestyle, and many turn to nutritional supplements for part of their answers,” Israelson says, adding that in such cases, they are not deterred by the economic climate. The recession may have caused people to reevaluate their spending, but people take health supplements to improve their quality of life—to be calmer, sleep better and get them through illness, Israelson says. And that is something they aren’t willing to cut from their budgets. “For people who use health supplements, it has become a belief structure and a lifestyle,” Israelson explains. “It’s a commitment to a way of living. They’ll change vacation plans or scale back on groceries, but they will not stop using supplements. They may not buy the most expensive brand anymore, but they continue to use.” There is a new kind of health supplement user emerging from the recession. “As more people rediscover the art of the home-cooked meal and fewer visits are made to movie theaters, people stay home more. The pace of daily life seems to slow down a bit and they discover the core virtues of the natural health industry. They find themselves asking if there is a less expensive, more healthful way to do things.” And to some consumers, juice, dietary bars and multivitamins meet both requirements. The director of communications at Nature’s Sunshine, Don Lehnhof, explains another reason new health supplement users are common in a recession is because consumers feel like they are getting more for their dollar when they have a personal expert on their dietary supplement or product. “Recessionary periods also cause consumers to seek a better value for their purchases,” Lehnhof says. “Nature’s Sunshine provides extensive training regarding natural health and supplements, which makes our distributors more effective in meeting the nutritional needs of customers. Health problems do not fade during a financial crisis, and reduced incomes often nudge consumers to consider natural alternatives for their health issues.” Feeding Utah’s Economy The nutritional supplement industry has thrived during past years, and Utah companies are confident they will continue to perform well despite today’s economy. Provo-based Nature’s Sunshine credits the strength of its programs and the quality of its products as the major drivers for good performance in past recessions and the current one. And XanGo launched a new product last year, designed to meet growing customer demand and strengthen sales in anticipation of an economic slowdown. Utah’s nutritional supplement industry makes up about 20 percent of the U.S. nutritional supplement market and rakes in business revenues of $7 billion a year, Israelson says. With around 145 nutritional product companies in Utah, their supporting businesses and seven or eight main business conferences a year, Utah’s thriving health supplement industry is not only a heavy influence on Utah’s and the nation’s economy, but a good one too.
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