What does “food supplement” actually mean? NUTRILITE Nutrition Scientist Alli Klosner takes us into her lab to discuss all things formula-related and reveals how your favourite nutritional supplements are made to support your diet.
Ever looked at a nutritional food supplement or your vitamin A tablet and wondered how many years of research, books and experiments made it possible? And how many people were involved in helping you fill potential nutritional gaps in your diet? Probably not.
Thinking about how the formula of your multivitamin or vitamin D came into existence is something that rarely crosses our minds. Yet for Alli Klosner, molecular biologist and NUTRILITE nutrition scientist, it is a thought that takes up many of her waking hours.
NUTRILITE Nutrition Scientist Alli Klosner testing a dietary food supplement
NUTRILITE supplement research often occurs once nutritional ingredients have been harvested from
– where the soil is rich with minerals and nutrients. Once these specially sourced ingredients have been selected, such as acerola cherries found in
NUTRILITE Vitamin C Plus,
some are sent to NUTRILITE labs so that scientists can create new supplements or improve your favourite products. In this instalment of our
seed to supplement series
, Alli invites us into her world and explains her definition of “food supplement”.
Nutritional supplements through the eyes of a science pro
The dictionary definition of a food supplement is “a preparation intended to supply a nutrient that is missing from a diet”. For Alli, this meaning goes far deeper. She and more than 200 scientists, who work on NUTRILITE research, see food supplements as an exciting puzzle – one they are working tirelessly to solve, to help people avoid any dietary deficiencies.
Fresh food ingredients on a petri dish, ready to be analysed for their nutritional content
While the founder of NUTRILITE, Dr Carl Rehnborg, connected plant food sources with increased nutritional benefits more than 80 years ago, dietary supplements still raise many unanswered questions. According to Alli, the work in researching and creating food supplements is rapidly changing. “We know that wellness is not only made up of what you inherit (genes) but also of your behaviours (nutrition and exercise). As scientific research becomes more advanced, we improve our understanding of the mechanisms behind why plants and their components are essential to optimal health. These insights allow us to better understand how to create great products,” she explains.
“Food supplements are exciting to work on because something new is always being discovered.” – Alli Klosner
What food supplement research really involves
There are several environments in which NUTRILITE vitamins and dietary supplements are developed. “Testing plant concentrates or evaluating potential new ingredients is done in a quieter environment, on a benchtop surrounded by beakers and test tubes,” Alli explains. “Because we work with plant ingredients and phytonutrients, the materials in the glassware are often brightly coloured (lots of greens!).” By contrast, she says that some of her colleagues – who test different aspects of how a nutritional tablet or food supplement can be compressed, for example – work with loud machines.
Nutrient-rich substances are regularly experimented with in NUTRILITE labs
Alli’s reality of working with food supplements involves a lot of time spent in front of a computer screen. However, this doesn’t mean it’s less interesting than doing experiments on your favourite vitamin C tablets. It simply means that she gets to evaluate published scientific literature. “I like to say that my alternative job description is ‘professional reader’,” she smiles, “It’s important to stay up to date with the latest research from around the world.”
Failure is part of the dietary supplement process
Alli Klosner testing a new nutritional supplement
Creating the correct NUTRILITE food supplement or vitamin formula takes time. Alli says, “Part of the scientific process involves failing, re-evaluating, and trying again another way.” For example, when developing NUTRILITE’s
Vitamin B Plus Dual-Action
supplement, Alli and her team knew they wanted to create a controlled-release technology to help efficiently release B vitamins into the body. However, since two of the eight B vitamins were not suitable for this, the team had to create a new release format. Alli explains, “We had never done that before. It took a lot of trial and error and several years of research. We tried different formulation technologies and processing techniques.” And, although it took long hard work, Alli and her team were able to identify the right formula – the one you profit from today. This discovery also made NUTRILITE the first leading global vitamin brand to create the first B-Complex vitamin supplement with dual-action technology.* What an achievement!
More than nutritional supplement research
While Alli greatly enjoys her scientific nutritional supplement research, she admits that the most interesting part of her job is when she meets ABOs. “It’s so rewarding to meet with the people who are going to be using our vitamin and supplement products. They are really invested in learning about nutrition and science in general – it’s inspiring!” she says. Being able to work with ABOs always gives her a fresh new perspective on her scientific work and how supplements can be used to fill potential nutritional gaps to support a healthy diet and help avoid any nutrient deficiencies.
*Euromonitor International Limited: Claim verification based on Euromonitor research and methodology for Amway Corporation conducted in May 2016, and October through November 2016. Euromonitor researched the top 10 global vitamin and dietary supplement brands by 2015 sales, RSP terms.