Condition-specific pills define supplements. Is yours the best?

The best supplements dot the three I's—innovation, inspiration and integrity.

Todd Runestad, Content Director,

July 15, 2019

3 Min Read
Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements reveals the highest overall dietary supplement

Health supplements occupy a valuable place in the U.S. health care system. Pharmaceutical drugs are prescribed by physicians to patients who receive a diagnosis of a disease state. Up until that diagnosis, a person is deemed healthy.

But what about those aspects of life that either fall short of a disease or just leave a person feeling like they are not living their most optimal life?

Such right-to-win states include not sleeping well enough, not having enough energy throughout the day, achy-breaky joints, feeling anxious or stressed, or wanting to achieve some uber-nutritious state when pregnant—or just any day.

This is where supplements come to play.

Some marketers push the envelope in their regulatory compliance around health claims, even making suggestive statements (or naming a product) in such a way that a consumer gains a pretty clear idea of the health benefit from a supplement. As if this supplement can indeed prevent, cure, treat or diagnose a disease. Whether or not it can, that’s not how the seminal DSHEA legislation is written. So support the structure or function of a body organ or system it is. That still leaves room for nuance in product communications.

Would a consumer think that a product called “Cholest-Off” might help to lower cholesterol levels? The language on the packaging may say it merely “helps maintain cholesterol levels already in the healthy zone” but it’s reasonable to assume that at least some consumers who buy the product are looking to lower cholesterol levels—a no-no in the regulatory regime health care in the U.S.

How the best marketers play

Most supplement companies are clear about how they position products, staying on the right side of structure-function claims, and merely communicating to consumers how this product can help support a healthy lifestyle. After all, people who take supplements also tend to exhibit other healthy choices, from the foods they eat to the exercise they get.

The best condition-specific supplements not only market products with appropriate structure/function claims, but savvy formulators will also use different ingredients that target a health state via different, complementary mechanisms of action.

So maybe a cardiovascular support supplement will contain omega-3 fish oils, which at high doses are used as a pharmaceutical to lower triglyceride levels. And maybe the supplement will also include an efficacious dose of at least 100 mg co-Q10, which powers the mitochondria which accumulate especially well in the heart. And maybe it will contain L-citrulline, a nitric oxide precursor to keep the blood flowing.

Standout supplements today dot the three I’s – innovation, inspiration and integrity.

Innovative products or companies show truly creative thinking and execution—not a “me too” approach—that use a newly discovered or rediscovered ingredient, flavor profile, technique or process. They fill a legitimate—though perhaps not yet recognized—natural products market need or niche. They are predicted to have loner-term impact in the industry.

Inspired companies or products adhere to an unusual or new mission targeting an issue or problem not yet widely addressed. Its message or mission is clearly communicated, focused and effective, with real, wide-reaching potential or already proven positive social or environmental impact.

Integrity means a company or product takes a creative, next-gen approach to clean ingredients, sustainability, transparency, traceability and safety.

At SupplySide West, we will acknowledge leading supplement companies and products in a range of categories, among them the best condition-specific supplement.

We’re looking for products that address consumers’ specific needs—joint, brain, heart, bone,  eye, immune health and more. Winning products are backed by science, fill a niche in the market and use creative and respectful ways to connect with their target audience. Brands that practice philanthropy to benefit their target audience also appeal to judges, so don’t forget to include that story.

Nominees have to be registered for the show to enter. The early bird entrance fee ends the end of July. Click here to get started. See you at SupplySide West in Las Vegas, Oct 15-19.

About the Author(s)

Todd Runestad

Content Director,, Natural Products Insider

Todd Runestad has been writing on nutrition science news since 1997. He is content director for and Natural Products Insider digital magazines. Other incarnations: supplements editor for, Delicious Living!, and Natural Foods Merchandiser. Former editor-in-chief of Functional Ingredients magazine and still covers raw material innovations and ingredient science.

Connect with me here on LinkedIn.


Todd writes about nutrition science news such as this story on mitochondrial nutrients, innovative ingredients such as this story about 12 trendy new ingredient launches from SupplySide West 2023, and is a judge for the NEXTY awards honoring innovation, integrity and inspiration in natural products including his specialty — dietary supplements. He extensively covered the rise and rise and rise and fall of cannabis hemp CBD. He helps produce in-person events at SupplySide West and SupplySide East trade shows and conferences, including the wildly popular Ingredient Idol game show, as well as Natural Products Expo West and Natural Products Expo East and the NBJ Summit. He was a board member for the Hemp Industries Association.

Education / Past Lives

In previous lives Todd was on the other side of nature from natural products — natural history — as managing editor at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He's sojourned to Burning Man and Mount Everest. He graduated many moons ago from the State University of New York College at Oneonta.


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