ADM testing new label on natural vitamin E By VALERIE WELLS
H&R Staff Writer
DECATUR, Ill. (August 20) -- Sorting through mounds of health information confuses many people. But when health-conscious consumers go out to buy vitamin supplements, they want to know what they're getting.
ADM is test-marketing a new logo for vitamin E that will clearly indicate natural, d-alpha vitamin E, as opposed to synthetic supplements.
Although 67 percent of consumers who buy supplements prefer natural-source vitamins, only 27 percent buy natural-source vitamins because labels are misleading and confusing, said ADM Vice President Martin Andreas.
"This is our sixth year in the vitamin E business," said Andreas. "We have the largest vitamin E plant right outside my (office) window. Primarily, we're trying to reposition natural vitamin E in the marketplace, and GNC and Walgreens agreed to put this new logo on their natural vitamin E bottles in all their outlets in Chicago."
The heart-shaped green logo is marked by white lettering that reads "d-Alpha" on a shield, surrounded by the words "Natural source Vitamin E." ADM chose Chicago-area Walgreens and GNC stores because Chicago is nearby and large enough to provide a good indication of the potential success of the label, Andreas said.
"If it is successful, the implications are we'd want to go nationwide with it," he said. "This is a very expensive program, and we want to test it first."
Andreas called the practice "co-branding," where ADM places their label on Walgreens' and GNC's own brands of vitamin E. The company hopes the logo will become instantly recognizable, so consumers who want natural vitamin E will be able to go straight to it with confidence that they are not buying synthetic vitamin E by mistake.
On Tuesday, ADM gave a presentation in Chicago for health professionals to introduce the new labeling program. Maret Traber spoke on the health benefits of vitamin E, especially natural-source vitamin E. Traber is an associate professor in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
"Natural vitamin E is better than synthetic because the body recognizes only one form of vitamin E," she said. "We've done studies with the forms labeled so we can trace them, and it turns out the natural vitamin E doubles the plasma and tissue concentrations. It's more effective for the consumer to buy the stuff the body wants."
Vitamin E is important to the human body, Traber said, because a 1996 study in Cambridge, England, showed that it helps prevent heart disease by fighting bad cholesterol and protecting the cells that line artery walls. The chance of a second heart attack was decreased by as much as 77 percent when patients took a vitamin E supplement, she said.
An even more recent study showed that vitamin E apparently slows the progression of Alzheimer's disease by delaying the onset of symptoms.
"The jury's still out on Alzheimer's, but it's very promising," Traber said.
Traber is also a member of the panel on dietary antioxidants and related compounds with the National Academy of Science. In April, the panel released new recommendations for adult daily intake of vitamin E: 15 mg per day, as opposed to the 8 mg previously recommended.
"This is just amazing," said Amy Hobbs, spokesperson for the Illinois Dietetic Association, who attended the presentation on Tuesday. "You'd have to eat 50 slices of whole wheat bread a day or 135 peanuts to get that."
The best sources of vitamin E are fats like sunflower oil and wheat germ oil, Hobbs said, and Americans just don't use a lot of those. So most people will need supplements if they are to meet the new DRI (daily recommended intake).
ADM will test the new label in Chicago for six months, and officials are contemplating a small test market program in Decatur, Andreas said.
Valerie Wells can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (217) 421-7982