Many personalized nutrition brands capitalize on the blood tests that can indicate a consumer’s dietary shortfalls, but to truly understand a person's needs, other factors need to be considered as well, according to Diana Morgan, head of scientific and regulatory affairs, Care/of. She encourages brands to also consider a person’s diet, lifestyle, physical activity, sleep, stress level, medications and environment. In this podcast with Sandy Almendarez, content director, Informa Markets, Morgan dives into personalized nutrition, covering:
- Why the definition of personalized nutrition should consider looking at a person on a holistic level.
- Why brands should offer incentives to increase consumer compliance and boost health outcomes.
- Morgan’s favorite herb and why (hint: it makes her “really happy” and helps power her through workouts).
Morgan will be speaking at SupplySide East in Secaucus, New Jersey on “Discovering the Person Behind Personalized Nutrition,” at 2:30 p.m. on April 21.
Sandy Almendarez, content director, Informa Markets: Hi, and welcome to a healthy insider podcast. I'm Sandy, and on the phone, I've got Diana Morgan, who is the head of scientific and regulatory affairs at Care/of. Hi Diana.
Diana Morgan, head of scientific and regulatory affairs, Care/Of: Hey Sandy, how's it going?
Almendarez: Good. Thank you so much for joining me today. Diana will be speaking at SupplySide East in Secaucus, New Jersey on discovering the person behind personalized nutrition. This will be in our presentation theater. She is speaking at 2:30 to 3:00 p.m. on April 21. Care/Of, Diana's company, is a direct to consumer personalized dietary supplement manufacturer. In her role Diana plays an instrumental role in product innovation, guiding the business on regulatory pathways, strategic planning, safety and market intelligence. She’s on the board of directors for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), and her previous roles were at companies such as Pfizer, the Vitamin Shoppe, and Solgar which is a Nature Bounty’s company. So, Diana knows what it takes for a personalized nutrition brand and I’m excited to get her take here.
Diana let’s get definitions out of the way. What does personalized nutrition mean to you?
Morgan: That’s a very good question Sandy and thank you so much for having me here, I’m really excited about Supply Side East. As of right now, there is no clear consensus in the field on the definition for personalized nutrition. In fact, recently the American Nutrition Association had proposed a definition for personalized nutrition as, “A field that leverages human individuality to drive nutrition strategies that prevent manage and treat disease and optimize health.” But to me, personalized nutrition means looking at the person on a more holistic level to provide dietary recommendations specific to their health status, lifestyles and goals.
Almendarez: OK, so let’s dig into your definition a little bit more. Why do you think it’s important to look at the whole person when formulating a personalized nutrition product, such as a supplement? A lot of these personalized nutrition brands just use a blood test or something similar and it’s kind of a one-point thing, but why is that not enough?
Morgan: Yeah, another great question. Blood tests are helpful in determining nutrient deficiencies and genetic issues in metabolizing nutrients. So, for example SNPs or single nucleotide polymorphisms can make it hard or even impossible for certain people to metabolize traditional nutrients. So, a common SNP is folic acid metabolism and is due to a polymorphism of the MTHFR gene. People with this SNP don’t metabolize traditional folic acid and therefore should supplement with the reduced form of folate. But blood tests are only one peek into a person. To truly understand a person's needs, other factors need to be considered as well, such as diet, lifestyle, physical activity, sleep, stress and environment. It’s also important to know what medication someone is on as medications can deplete nutrients in the body.
Almendarez: So, in your experience, how do consumers interact with the supplements that they take and I'm asking here about usage, interest in repurchasing and really integrating supplements into their lives.
Morgan: Yeah, so the more compliant a person is about taking their supplements on a daily basis, the better results they’ll have and will ultimately feel better. So, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic, and our brains like habits because they're efficient. So now comes the challenge on getting people to make a habit of taking their vitamins every day. Since we live in such a fast-pace environment, the key really is convenience. So, make it convenient for the consumer to fit their supplement into their lifestyle. At Care/Of we offer individualized packs that people can pop in their gym bag or suitcase and take on the go. Also to enhance compliance, which is especially important in the period where you're building those healthy habits, we have check ins on our app and every time you log that you took your vitamins, you’ll earn something called “Care/Of carrots” that can be redeemed for various incentives, such as free vitamins or merchandise. This provides an incentive for compliance, and I've seen in my experience that the more users are engaged with check in tools, the more compliant they are about creating a consistent regimen and see better results.
Almendarez: So, speaking of those results, why is it important for a supplement brand of all kinds, even those in personalized nutrition or perhaps especially those in personalized nutrition, to demonstrate a product’s usefulness?
Morgan: Yeah, and it is super important. On the high-level, consumers are skeptical of whether taking supplements is actually doing anything for them. Some supplements have immediate effects like caffeine or melatonin. But others, such as vitamins, work on a cellular level, and you may not notice the benefits right away. But just like any process, it takes time to see effects, whether it's noticing you have more energy throughout the day or that your skin feels more hydrated. Unless you keep track, you might not otherwise pay attention to those little changes. So overall this is an area where it's super important to have those regular check- ins with the customer setting milestones and goals, and just really remembering that a healthy diet is a marathon, not a sprint.
Almendarez: Thank you, so this last question is not about personalized nutrition specifically, but it is very personal. Looking at your bio that you submitted for Supply Side East for the presentation, you noted that Rhodiola is your favorite supplement and I want to know why.
Morgan: Yes! So, I love adaptogens. Rhodiola is an adaptogen, and it just makes me really happy. A great way to think about Rhodiola is like a jump start for a car battery. When your car is dead and you need to get that jump start, Rhodiola kind of does that. So, if you struggle to get going in the morning, taking it first thing will help you get going for the rest of the day and it's a great alternative to caffeine for energy. I also work out a lot and Rhodiola is great for endurance and recovery after exercise, so to me, it’s one of those herbs that you can’t not take.
Almendarez: Great I love hearing that. Well, thank you so much Diana for joining me today on this podcast and we certainly look forward to your presentation on April 21 at 2:30 to 3:00 p.m. at Supply Side East in Secaucus, New Jersey covering “Discovering the person behind personalized nutrition.”