The History and Future of Organic Supplements

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Published: 21st October 2008
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The History of Organic Supplements
The health food business began more than a century ago with names like Sylvester Graham and John H. Kellogg. Graham introduced the famous Graham crackers in 1830 and John H. Kelloggs with his brother introduced the famous cornflakes cereal. By 1899 the Kelloggs brothers were the first to become millionaires of the newly born "fad food" industry.

During the early 1900s scientists began quantifying food groups. Dubious elixirs claiming all kinds of miracles began to be sold from bandwagons that traveled from town to town. Fraudulent claims and mass gullibility led the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in 1906 to restrict the use of health claims on foods and drugs.

Health magazines began to be published promoting vitamins, food preparation and exercise creating health awareness and warning people of the dangers of pollution. During World War II the first book on organic food, Organic Gardening and Farming, was released and became an immediate bestseller. In the late 1980s companies like Amway, NeoLife, and Shaklee distributed costly vitamins from door to door grossing a total of $700 million selling health supplements.

In the counterculture of the 1960s and the 1970s university students opened up community gardens, cooperative grocery stores, health-food restaurants, and organic farms. Ecology and earth preservation became the buzz words. Foods like brown rice, wheat germ, honey, nuts, sprouts became popular health foods. Vegetables were considered healthy if they were locally and organically produced. Vegetarian diets became the "in" thing. Sugar, white bread and red meat began to be thought of as unhealthy food.

The counter-culture movement is where the health food business was born and found its niche. As patients became self-reliant treating their ailments with natural products, doctors began complaining of patients using untested herbal concoctions and eastern methods for self-treatment. This movement was soon to emerge as alternate medicine or complementary medicine. Conventional foods were enriched or fortified with nutrients. In 1973, the FDA required such products to show labels with ingredients and the RDA values for protein and seven essential vitamins and minerals.

In the 1990s the medical profession began to be slowly convinced of herbal methods of treatment with growing research validating some of their claims. Doctors began to combine nutrition and preventive medicine to treat patients for various health disorders. The World Health Organization began to adopt herbal treatments to cut down on medical costs. The U.S. National Institutes of Health began to research herbal medicine claims.

The Result
Unremarkable growth in the sale of whole food and organic supplements. From 1980 to 1990 the industry grew from $1.9 billion to $4.2 billion in 1990. From 1990 to 2000 it grew to $32 billion. (Spencer, 2001). According to the FDA and Nutrition Business News by 2005 this industry had risen to $83 billion. This was due to:
  • Natural grocery stores opening up in the 1980s and 1990s while many small cooperative health-food stores still sustained their business.
  • Convention food conglomerates bought out some small natural food product companies.
  • Regular grocery stores began to carry more organic foods.
  • Consumers became increasingly aware of health issues and how nutrition plays a vital part in it.
The Future of Organic Supplements
In the recent past, many consumers did not feel confident about the organic supplement they purchased because there were very little rules regulating this industry. Recent self-regulations have been induced by the implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices and the Adverse Event Report. With these factors now in play the industry is predicted to grow 39% from 2007-2012 according to the Nutritional Supplements in The U.S., Third Edition.

Today, consumers are more educated in nutrition and aware of health issues. Recent scientific research has boosted the organic supplement industry in a phenomenal way. Organic supplement manufacturers have to their aid an advanced technology that has increased productivity without compromising on quality. New technological advances cut production costs and ensure efficiency resulting in products that are free of contaminants and prove integrity in labeling.

Inspite of the 2008 economic crash the organic supplement industry is poised for bigger growth. In fact, the organic supplement manufacturers are making an all-out effort to promote the use of organic supplements as against expensive prescription drugs and medical treatments, especially in such dire times such as these.

The spectrum of organic suppplements includes vitamins, minerals, and botanical plants. There is much growth predicted for specific-health related products such as for joints, calcium, children's health concerns, eye, energy, heart health, men's health, women's health, brain, digestive and cosmetic products. Weight control products are popularly in demand as are antioxidants, Green Tea, spirulina, chlorella, ginkgo biloba, glucosamine and saw palmetto, soy protein nutrients, lutein, lycopene, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics and sterol esters, and coenzyme Q10.

Market research shows that organic supplements have a global market with a demand that is predicted to reach $15.5 billion by the year 2010.

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