My name’s Neal. I’m a pharmacist.
I was trained in traditional medicine. I know medications are necessary and can be helpful. I also know that we traditional medical practitioners, as a community, need a change of focus. We should resolve to prevent disease instead of merely treating problems as they arise.
The pendulum is swinging this way. We look to nutrition, lifestyle modifications, and supplements to optimize our well-being. These are “healthy” decisions that we make because we believe we are doing what’s best for us.
But then again, I’m a pharmacist. My training is extensive in how traditional medicines are made, how they interact with our bodies (and our bodies with the medications) and most importantly, how this is all studied – how medical research is conducted.
When I would look at mass marketed supplements, like many traditional practitioners, I was extremely skeptical. The standards and oversight that I was used to were practically non-existent in the natural products world. Our medicines are the same no matter what pharmacy you go to – they are pure, potent, and consistent. With supplements, two products in the same store will have differing potency and purity. Imagine that inconsistency across thousands of stores nationwide.
But I know that natural products CAN work. As a practitioner, it is extremely difficult to find the signal in the noise. As a consumer, it’s even harder. I resolved to become THE expert in supplement quality and deliver the wellness experience people want, without the “catch” others give.
The Truth About Supplements
Supplements can work. I’d argue some are necessary. The truth is, there is so much misinformation in the natural products industry, it’s astounding.
Product quality is very commonly abysmal. I don’t say that lightly. It is often the case that profit is the only thing that is considered when these products are formulated and manufactured. Basic considerations are rarely met.
- Have we manufactured and tested this correctly?
- Is this the right form of the product to best maximize absorption?
- Is there enough in the capsule to even have an effect?
- How do the ingredients in the formula work together- are they even compatible at all?
The studies on whether supplements work (the evidence, as it is called in medicine) is nowhere NEAR where it should be. Poorly executed studies are often done on poorly made products.
How do we know what’s real and what’s marketing? We don’t. It’s mostly the latter.
Many who sell and recommend supplements don’t understand the complexities of drugs and supplements and how they fit together, although they may claim they do. They certainly don’t understand the extent of deception in the industry, especially as it pertains to quality – the actual formulation and manufacturing of these products.
It’s easy to know what turmeric is and what health conditions it can support. It is almost impossible to know what companies are actually providing potent, unadulterated turmeric that is free of contaminants.
None of this is the consumer’s fault. They are trying to be active in their care. They want to make smart decisions to live happier, healthier lives. They want autonomy. But there is a gap between what a consumer wants, and what the natural products industry actually delivers. The supplement industry rakes in money on the fact that the consumer isn’t privy to any of their dirty little secrets.
Consumers are left out in the cold, paying for an experience or result, but getting products or advice that can’t deliver.
The Woodstock Vitamins Vision
My vision is to provide a more truthful, honest experience. We created Woodstock Vitamins to fill in the gaps between what customers want – a holistic, self-directed approach to preventing disease – and what the natural products industry actually delivers.
Doing so requires an uncompromising commitment to integrity. The truth of the matter needs to be stated: it is too easy to do wrong, and the rewards are greater for those who do the wrong thing in this industry.
It is dramatically easier to stick your head in the sand. We’ve watched so many “experts” do it time and time again.
It is more profitable to sell deceiving products. We know we could make more money by acting like everyone else – ignoring the details and selling cheap, high margin products by using your trust that we have worked so hard to earn.
It is much harder to be one of a few, going against the grain of a multi-billion dollar industry.
Doing the hard but morally right thing is what we have chosen to do. We will not do as everyone else does. It would legitimize the current, corrupt, misleading system and make the problem worse for our customers.
We will never compromise our integrity. We will pay attention to the details. We will hold ourselves to a higher standard in the products we carry, the knowledge we impart, and the advice we give.
“Vitality Approved” Standards
Companies traditionally sell brands that are popular or market well. These become known as the “good brands” by consumers and practitioners alike. The “experts” give cookie-cutter advice, taught by the brand’s representatives. But these products are often poorly made, inappropriately dosed, or not at all what they say they are.
Here at Woodstock Vitamins, we’ve stood old methods on their heads.
We start with our standards. We created a list of qualities a “best in class” product would have for each category of supplement we sell. Fish oil, herbs, vitamins – all of them. These standards include the types of raw materials that can be used, how products are manufactured, and now they are tested. These are highly specific templates that we use to measure brands and products.
We then seek out brands that will meet or exceed our standards. These products become “Vitality Approved.” If at any time a brand or product fails to continue to meet these standards, we stop selling them. Integrity, not profits, always comes first.
We are taking a radical approach, it seems, to the way business is conducted in the natural products industry. This has and will continue to upset people. We feel that by paying attention to the details and ensuring each and every product is what it claims to be, we will be able to provide a safe haven for the health-conscious consumer, a place where our community can trust their health is valued over our bottom line.
We’re Here To Deliver – For You
Consumers must be aware of the shortcomings in the natural products industry. If we choose to use natural products, which we think you definitely should, we must look at vitamins and supplements with the same skeptical eye of someone who is trained in understanding how this all works. We should take the information and advice out there about supplements with a grain of salt because it is easy to deceive. Customers must expect more for their wellness needs, and, in turn, themselves.
We know there is a better way to treat and prevent disease.
We know supplements, when done correctly, have a big role in helping support our bodies.
Our “Vitality Approved” standards will be the new benchmark for excellence in vitamins and supplements.
This is our life’s work. We exist to raise the expectations of quality and expertise in the natural products industry. And most importantly, we will not compromise on this mission or our integrity. You are worth it.
Neal Smoller, PharmD
Owner, Pharmacist, Big Mouth