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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

COVID Raises Fever for Natural Products

Jul 01, 2021 06:00AM ● By Noah Chen

Elderberry. Melatonin. CBD. Over the past year, these three health products have been flying off the shelves of vitamin and supplement stores around the country. While the reasons people take them vary, all of them have been growing in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The demand for certain products has risen so much that Fortune Business Insights, a global market research organization, adjusted the growth goals of the vitamins and supplements industry to accommodate a surge in interest brought on by the pandemic. The industry is now expected to grow from $108 billion to $185 billion by 2027.

“One of our big sellers is elderberry. Elderberry syrup, elderberry gummies, elderberry everything,” says Greg Lee. Lee manages the eight Good Nutrition stores that can be found around Atlanta, and he says that elderberry and other immune-boosting supplements like vitamin C and D3 have been selling fast.

Elderberry gains its immune-boosting properties by being chock-full of antioxidants. A paper exploring the physiological role of antioxidants, published by the National Library of Medicine, states that antioxidant supplementation can significantly improve certain immune responses. The antioxidants speed up the rate of response to certain immune system attacks and can even preserve our immune system responses later in life.

Mari Geier, CEO of Nuts ’n Berries, an Atlanta-based nutrition store, agrees that elderberry and other immune-boosting vitamins have been in high demand. “The good news is, doctors are telling people to take them,” Geier says. “And so they are coming in.”

Elderberry suppliers weren’t the only ones seeing increased interest in their product. COVID brought with it many struggles, and for some, the stress of the day carried into the night. Sleeping problems soon followed.

“We found that sleep support and things that can help people get a better night’s sleep have been off-the-charts popular,” says Geier. Her most popular product? Chewable melatonin, a hormone whose primary function is to regulate the body’s day and night cycles.

Our bodies naturally produce melatonin, and some people who have trouble falling asleep don’t produce enough of it. For others, their stress is enough to keep them awake. Either way, melatonin supplements are meant to help us fall asleep deeper and easier.

While melatonin may be one of the most popular sleep aids right now, it’s not actually the one Geier recommends. “The fact is, it has a ‘negative biofeedback,’ so if you take it for too long, your body stops making it.”

Geier instead suggests alternative sleep aids like Gaia Health Adrenal Nightly Restore, which she says is made with a blend of herbs that, together with the adrenal support, help solve the problem. Eventually, people don’t have to take any supplements, she reports.

Like Geier and Lee, Deandre Cannon, an Atlanta-based bodybuilder and founder of A Better Rebuild, an e-commerce vitamin and supplement retailer, has seen spikes in immune boosters and sleep aid sales. He also saw growth in CBD.

“I’ve seen a dramatic jump in sales of my CBD gummies,” says Cannon. “I think it’s twofold. People are becoming more aware of the overall health benefits of taking CBD. But COVID was also a stressful time for a lot of people, and when there’s something available to you that you don’t need a prescription for to help with your anxiety, that’s something a lot of people looked into.”

While the pandemic saw an increase in the popularity of elderberry, melatonin and CBD, Lee thinks the interest in health products in general will widen and impact the entire vitamins and supplements industry as a whole. Thanks to COVID, more people are thinking about health in general, increasing the traffic to stores like Good Nutrition. The increased awareness and acceptance by the medical world might also be a factor in the trend.

“Over the years, supplements have become more mainstream,” says Lee. “One of the key ones is vitamin D. Doctors now regularly check for it when they do blood tests.” The heightened education, coupled with “better and better technology,” has Lee optimistic for the future.

As more and more citizens become vaccinated and the pandemic starts to wind down, the vitamins and supplements industry will continue to support Americans’ health needs. Retailers like Nuts ’n Berries, A Better Rebuild, and Good Nutrition are excited to bring the hottest products to their customers and are grateful to have been able to support them during a pandemic-stricken year.

For immune system support, Geier recommends the product MyCommunity by Host Defense, a blend that incorporates mushrooms. For anxiety, Lee recommends ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic herb said to relieve anxiety and help with a number of other ailments. To help with sleep, Cannon recommends CBD. For non-CBD users, Geier recommends Gaia Herbs’ Adrenal Nightly Restore. ❧

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