Express Pharma

Deficiencies are mainly due to lack of knowledge on nutrition

Rohit Shelatkar, Vice President, Vitabiotics discusses the dismal state of health and healthcare among Indian women, what steps can be taken to improve this situation and the importance of nutritional supplements in a woman's regular diet in a one on one chat with Tarannum Rana

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Meyer has had amazing growth over the years. What defines it? Can you share any interesting anecdote the journey so far?
Meyer Organics, founded in 1982, is one of the fastest growing healthcare companies in India. It is the sister company of Vitabiotics, UK’s number one vitamin company in London, founded in 1971. Vitabiotics has a unique portfolio of products at the forefront of scientific developments in key sectors, including nutrition and women’s health, based on clinical research. For close to five decades, Vitabiotics and Meyer have dedicatedly provided the market with innovative and effective products based on sophisticated nutrient technology. We partner with various leading universities around the world for nutritional research and also actively work with many worldwide charities.

Vitabiotics is also the only vitamin company in the world that has won the prestigious Queen’s Award four times, two of which were for Innovation in Vitamin Research for our successful clinical research for Pregnacare and also Perfectil. This product has captured almost 90 per cent of the UK’s market share for pregnancy related products.

Vitabiotics and Meyer are also pioneers of nutrition research as we have always brought new concepts to the market. For example, Meyer was the first company to introduce Magnesium alongside vitamin D3 for calcium absorption, with our launch of the Calcimax range. We were the first company to introduce the right level of folic acid for pregnancy, 400ug, much before the Department of Health of the UK, made the official recommendation for pregnant women. Over the course of our 48-year history, the development of new products at Vitabiotics and Meyer has been fuelled by a fundamental desire to deliver natural healthcare solutions that are safe, effective and relevant to our customer needs.

The company puts a lot of emphasis on women healthcare with an array of products dedicated to them. Can you shed more light on this?
Yes, we have Wellwoman, Perfectil, Menopace, Osteocare and Pregnacare, which are specifically designed for women. Wellwoman is the original multivitamin supplement designed especially for women to help them meet the demands of modern life and to support specific areas of women’s health. Perfectil contains essential nutrients that deliver nourishment at the very deepest level, with natural extracts which help the skin, hair and nails all year round. Optimal nutrition is also important during and after the menopause and Menopace provides the much-needed support during this period of change. It is an effective ‘one dose per day’ supplement of nutrients scientifically formulated to help maintain menopausal health. Calcium is vital for older women as their bone mineral content tends to be lower than men. As women grow older, dietary calcium intake is likely to decrease. Additionally, bone calcium loss is further accelerated with menopause setting in; hence it is very important to take a supplement like Osteocare. Pregnacare is formulated to safeguard the dietary intake of nutrients for women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant. This way of looking after the foetus or unborn baby through the mother, is also called foetal programming. Foetal programming using supplements such as Pregnacare will help shape the next generation for the better.

Even today, a majority of women are deprived of even basic healthcare in India compared to men. What factors do you think contribute to such a dismal state?
Deficiencies are seen mainly because of lack of the right knowledge on vitamins and nutrition and also due to the availability of wrong information. Unfortunately, education and primary support for health and hygiene are not up to the required level. We are working to combat this and have primarily been promoting our health products through doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals but we are now also seeking the help of print media and digital marketing. Globally, we have taken significant steps towards raising awareness about the importance of Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 (found in our product Pregnacare) intake, before and during pregnancy. We are making optimum use of the Internet as a tool to promote the right info. As part of the Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, Meyer has undertaken the GO FOLIC campaign intending to make a positive difference in society. In India there is lack of awareness on Spina Bifida and hence Meyer has taken the initiative to bring about awareness of this grave condition for the first time in the country.

Aside from giving them easy access to primary healthcare, what other steps can be taken to ensure that Indian women lead a good quality of life?
Probably the most important micronutrients for women include folic acid, zinc, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin B6, B12 and B2, as they are essential for various functions. These vitamins, minerals, and other supplements should be taken alongside a healthy and balanced diet along with maintaining a good lifestyle. This includes —30 minutes of aerobics, three to four times a week; drinking a good amount of water every day; getting at least six to seven hours of sleep regularly; including a minimum of five to seven portions of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet; and most importantly, avoiding smoking and drinking.

What is Meyer’s growth strategy for the next five years in terms of its domestic and export business?Meyer’s growth strategy will be based on investments into research and trying to make products better known by educating doctors, as well as direct consumers. It will also include ensuring product availability, not only in metro cities, but also in remote interiors of the country at reasonable prices.

What are your thoughts on the future of the nutraceutical industry, especially in India?
The nutraceutical industry is growing rapidly across the globe, including countries like India and China that constitute almost one-third of the world’s population. Growth in these countries would have a significant impact on the international health market, as people are now more aware of the impact of a healthy lifestyle on their well-being than ever before.  Nutraceuticals form a critical part of this healthy lifestyle, and therefore, we can expect steady growth of this market in India over the next five years.

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