Supplement Perspectives
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Consumers are Thinking Like Scientists. Are You?

You can’t plead ignorance as to what’s in your supplements, writes Karen Todd, senior director, global brand marketing, for Kyowa Hakko USA. Customers are getting savvier.

“Immune health” are big buzzwords in the dietary supplement and natural products industries. There are endless choices of pills, tablets, powders, and drinks that claim to help support our immune systems.

Like all dietary supplements, immune health products are regulated by the FDA and diseases claims cannot be made, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop some companies from making vague claims on immune health product labels.

That’s why it is important for immune health products to be supported by valid clinical science. Rigorous, scientific, and objective clinical trials (randomized, double blind, placebo controlled) take the mystery out of a supplement’s effectiveness. The facts also provide consumers with proof that an ingredient or product does what it claims.

A great example of science showing efficacy of an ingredient is glutathione. This “master antioxidant” helps protect the body against free radicals, which can cause significant cell damage. Need proof of glutathione’s effectiveness? Read any of the more than 80,000 published studies on it.

One such study—Randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral glutathione supplementation on body stores of glutathione (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24791752)–showed that taking a daily dose of a glutathione supplement increased the body’s stores by 260 percent. (Study subjects took Kyowa’s Setria® Glutathione.)

Scientific research backs a number of immune health options. There are clinical studies around probiotics, antioxidants, amino acids, organic superfoods, and others that can help direct consumers to the right options for them. You just need to know where to look.

So, where are these forward-thinking folks looking?

A great resource is PubMed.gov, a site managed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). You can type in an ingredient name and choose from a laundry list of studies about it. There are more than 119,000 listings for glutathione alone. If a consumer is researching a specific product, the manufacturer should have a full website dedicated to it. Kyowa offers setriaglutathione.com for anyone interested in reading about the efficacy of glutathione as an antioxidant and immune health option.

Information on immune health supplements—which can be a help to manufacturers as well as the general public—also can be found on these Websites:

• Council for Responsible Nutrition - http://www.crnusa.org/
• NIH Office of Dietary Supplements - http://ods.od.nih.gov/
• U.S. National Library of Medicine - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dietarysupplements.html
• National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health - https://nccih.nih.gov/health/supplements
• Institute of Food Technologists - http://www.ift.org/knowledge-center/read-ift-publications/science-reports/scientific-status-summaries/dietary-supplements.aspx

The public is getting savvy about what they put in their bodies. Manufacturers of finished products need to be part of this awareness. If not, you’re enhancing the “Wild West” stereotype—and putting people in danger.

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