The nutritional supplements industry is booming with the media irrevocably invoking fear in this pandemic. Whilst mainstream media, search engines and social media platforms are blatantly censoring “inconvenient truths” as we’ve seen time and again – the more accessible solutions and onus lie in the nutritional supplements field.
We’ve thus witnessed a sudden surge in advertisements and nutritional experts coming out to talk about solutions for prevention and treatment of the COVID-19.
This is a necessary response – but how do we as laypeople get savvier about selecting the right products?
Firstly, we have to start realising that there’s no company in existence which will claim that their product is just not the best. We have to practise discernment and look past superficial claims. Here are some strategies which companies adopt to promote their products that we should exercise discretion with:
- Sales and Marketing Pitch – You see or hear words like “best”, “freshest”, “purest”, “most potent”, “most absorbable”, “cellular delivery”, “absorbed on a cellular level”, “100% natural”. Clever marketers study consumer behaviour and understand the psychology and emotions behind buying decisions, looking at pain points etc. But ultimately, as an empowered consumer, you’ll want to make sure they can substantiate any claims – which are not easy. But if someone has something by which they can use to substantiate it, you can be sure they will. So if they don’t even have that – it’s simply their word that you’re taking. Period.
- Substantiating the Sales Pitch – This is where companies are “trying” to demonstrate the superiority of their product. We need to base the substantiation on something concrete. For example, when you see a statement that goes “research has shown that resveratrol is the ultimately longevity molecule found in red wine and simply just one tablet contains 15 glasses worth of resveratrol!”, you have to question how that will translate into actual benefits. A statement like the above may sound impressive, but it’s not just about how much latent ingredient you have, but how much is being used or absorbed by the body. A pebble in the beach may have more calcium than the vegetables you eat, but do you really think you would absorb the calcium in the pebble if you ate it? Impressive statements have to translate into actual biological manifestation which can be measured and felt – or it is just an impressive statement.
- Impressing with Expertise – This strategy revolves around establishing credentials through “subject matter experts” such as doctors or scientists, whether it’s the founders themselves or other stakeholders who endorse the product. Some of these experts are great orators and teachers, but not all understand and research deeply enough into nutraceuticals. It is really not uncommon to find companies who ride on scientific studies to sell their products. Yet, there is a difference between doing research to understand what’s really going on, and finding research just so that can product claims can be backed in a very loose way – which is what see alot. For example, citing studies on sulforaphane in treating cancer to support a green powder product which contains cruciferous vegetables is not going to yield the same results. Sulforaphane requires enzymatic conversion in the body which means appropriate preparations of foods high in glucoraphanin and myrosinase. Some cruciferous vegetables are low in these compounds and are not prepared correctly, and are present in small amounts in green powders – but no one would know, right?
- Testimonials – We believe in anecdotal evidence based on clinical symptomology apart from measurable, objective markers of health. However, when you are dealing with websites and simply reading testimonials, there are many possibilities. Testimonials can be fake, they can be from friends, they can be given through offering freebies and discounts (who bites the hand that feeds them?), and people are generally skewed towards giving positive reviews when asked, plus negative reviews can always be removed.
We hope this is helpful for you to at least suss out “suspect” products and narrow your options down to more likely winners in your shopping endeavours.
At Root of Life, we take our research and testing of products very seriously. Apart from testing them across multiple users for extended periods before deciding to offer them officially, we ask the formulators and scientific teams behind these products lots of questions. This requires one to go deep into the underpinning causes of chronic disease, the nuances and caveats of every product – being objective and not just emphasising strengths alone. For some products, we even send them for third party testing at very credible 3rd party labs.