In the Aisles


Harmons Grocery: Before recommending anything for a customer inquiring about bone health (or other conditions), Harmons’ pharmacists and dietitians inquire about health conditions, supplement use, and over-the-counter and prescription drug use, as well as diet, says Jonnell Masson, a dietitian at the Salt Lake City-based chain. “If a calcium supplement seems to be warranted, we would recommend a calcium citrate and vitamin D supplement in the amount appropriate to help the customer meet, but not exceed, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA),” Masson explains.

The point people for Harmons’ VMS department are the HBC manager for general questions, and the pharmacist or registered dietitian for specific questions regarding effectiveness, safety, formulation and dosage.

Masson hasn’t noticed any significant change in demand for bone health products, noting that “interest seems to have remained high.” However, the types of products consumers are buying in bone health are changing, she observes.

Harmons has put together a handout on women’s health that covers bone health in addition to other women’s health topics.

United Supermarkets LLC: Ellen Todd-Good, Living Well business manager for body care and supplements at the Lubbock, Texas-based chain, says bone and joint health remain in the top five of all supplement categories, despite reports such as the Swedish study that contains 19 years of data on 62,000 women.

“Such reports can seem alarming,” she acknowledges. “The article [about the report] only states that these women took 1,400 milligrams per day of calcium, not if they included any additional supplements that aid in the uptake of calcium in the body, such as magnesium, at a 50 percent ratio, or vitamin D. The article went on to state that postmenopausal women in general do not need to supplement with more than 1,000 milligrams per day of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D, unless tests show they are deficient.

“That is the correct approach, meaning that, yes, you should be supplementing at higher doses only under a doctor’s guidance, but up to 1,000 milligrams per day of calcium and vitamin D are okay to take after menopause.”

Todd-Good sees continued growth in algae-based calcium, which is believed to have a much better absorption rate and is friendlier to the body. She adds that more people are seeking a complete bone formula that includes calcium, magnesium (at a 50 percent ratio to calcium), vitamins D and K, boron, and silica.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage: “We absolutely get questions, especially when there are headlines in the news,” says Lani Jacobs, nutrition education specialist at the 65-unit natural food chain based in Lakewood, Colo.

To answer shoppers’ questions and concerns, Natural Grocers has a dedicated team of trained nutritional health coaches available on the floor or in free one-on-one coaching sessions at all stores. All employees get intensive nutrition education, says Jacobs. For instance, they recently learned the benefits of taking vitamin K2 as part of a supplement program. The retailer also offers a free bone health class once a year.

Besides an uptake in vitamin K, Jacobs notes strontium, a metal element used in calcium blends, playing a role in increasing bone density.

“It’s never just calcium or vitamin k or strontium that makes the difference. It’s a whole combination of nutrients that supports our best health,” she adds. “There are a lot of naysayers out there when it comes to supplementation. Bottom line: The food we are eating today is not the food our ancestors ate.” She notes that soil quality is diminished and vegetable variety is significantly less in spite of imported produce.

Jacobs doesn’t believe consumers can meet their nutritional requirements, given “lifestyle, high toxins, low physical activity and high stress — all deplete our body of everything.”

Wildberries Marketplace: Joe Deschaine, a clerk who has worked at the natural food market in Arcata, Calif., for five years, maintains that calcium sales in stable forms are changing. “Many people are going for the amino acid chelates and, in calcium, for citrate and malates from magnesium,” he says.

With rainy days prevalent in his market area, Deschaine says there are times he can’t keep vitamin D on the shelf. Additionally, vitamin K, especially the MK-7 form of vitamin K2, and calcified algae are popular bone health supplements at Wildberries. However, Deschaine often advises shoppers to look elsewhere in the store for health solutions.

“I am a big proponent in suggesting people first go for food over supplements,” he says.

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