LAKE IN THE HILLS – To local vitamin vendors, no study or paper questioning their value can counter what they see with their own two eyes every day with their customers.
The difference in health and appearance of a customer who comes in for the first time and his or her subsequent visits is profound, said Peter Schmitz, co-owner of New U in Lake in the Hills. No study alleging that vitamins don’t do much, including several published last month, change that, he said.
“What vitamins did [the authors] really use? In the world of vitamins, I would simplify that there are good, better and best. But if you buy the basic multivitamin for $10, you get what you pay for,” Schmitz said.
Two clinical trials published in December in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded multivitamins had no effect on cognitive or cardiovascular health or other chronic diseases, and that “they should be avoided.” The studies followed a November published review of more than two dozen studies that concluded supplements carried little health benefit for people with an adequate diet.
Local vendors such as Schmitz and Anne Worth, owner of Nature’s Cornucopia in McHenry, said they beg to differ. Worth bought the 43-year-old business in 1999 and carefully selects what vitamins and supplements end up on her shelves.
“Just a multiple vitamin is going to supply the basics to help your body grow healthy, build bone, maintain muscle, eliminate toxins ... there are so many functions in the body that rely on certain nutrients. It’s amazing. And if you’re missing some nutrients, you have an inefficient operation going on,” Worth said.
Local vendors aren’t the only ones questioning the latest studies’ accuracy. They are a small part of the $23.4-billion global vitamin industry, about $14.2 billion of which is multivitamins. The vitamin and exercise business has been good for Schmitz and his wife, Carol, who are moving their business, formerly CL Nutrition in Crystal Lake, to a larger facility at 1531 Imhoff Drive, Unit B, in Lake in the Hills. New U is a distributor for Herbalife, a Los Angeles-based global nutrition and weight-control business that reported almost $4.1 billion in sales in 2012.
Schmitz pointed out that studies abound concluding vitamins have a definite health benefit. Also, discriminating customers at Worth’s store at 1717 N. Richmond Road in McHenry can ask for the websites of the clinical trials of the vitamins she sells.
Worth and Schmitz pounced on the study’s conclusion regarding that vitamins and supplements have little value in what The Wall Street Journal described as “generally well-nourished, Western populations.” Far too many people, they said, are not well-nourished.
Dave Childress, manager of Crystal Lake Health Food Store at 25 E. Crystal Lake Ave., told the Northwest Herald in a Jan. 9 story that people eat a lot of nutrient-poor food loaded with processed carbohydrates, and don’t get what they need.
Worth and Schmitz also noted people who try to eat better still may not be getting required nutrients. While Schmitz pointed out that produce that is not freshly picked like what you would find at a farmers’ market will not contain all the nutrients one might think. Worth added that other factors may also come into play.
“What we’re having happen with our food supply is that it doesn’t contain the nutrients that God intended for it to contain. They’re growing food that some people call ‘Frankenfood’ because it’s been genetically modified by various companies, and if you don’t know what to look for, you could be eating a lot of pesticides on the foods, chemical fertilizers ... they’re not going to hold any nutrients,” Worth said.
But this does not mean that popping a vitamin into your mouth every morning is the cure-all, local vendors said. Individual people have different needs and different deficiencies depending on their diet. And others, for health and age reasons, might be eating right but their bodies need something extra to help absorb needed nutrients.
Like any product, Schmitz said, the right plan – and quality – are important.
“If you’re going to take something, you want it to do something,” Schmitz said.