Kunin: It's a pleasure to be here.
Mike: Could you give people a description of what this is all about? How can people "drink their vitamins," what products do you have and where do they come from?
Kunin: Well, I realized from our medical practice that patients have a tough time taking pills. If you put them on a multi-pill program -- going from one pill to two pills and then to five pills or ten pills -- it became increasingly difficult. People didn't want to go through the stress. It became very clear to me that we needed to find an easier way. When you really get down to it, there really is no better way than drinking your vitamins: Absorption is increased and it's not a stress on the body like taking pills can be. More often than not, people have weak stomach acids, so digestion and malabsorption problems are the norm.
Mike: Yes, that's definitely the case.
Kunin: Therefore, you want to make it easy for people and, at the same time, make it a pleasurable experience. OlaLoa has developed the most comprehensive powdered nutrition supplements in the world.
Mike: What does the product line consist of?
Kunin: We have two primary products. Our super-multi formula, called Energy, is comprised of 36 strategic vitamins, minerals, amino acids and digestives. They're diabetic-safe and have no artificial sweeteners or stimulants of any sort. Children can take them.
Mike: What's the sweetener in it?
Kunin: We have one gram of fructose, so it has no effect on the glycemic index.
Mike: Well, very low.
Kunin: Yes, it's very safe for diabetics. There's a gram of glycine in the product, which is a tremendous help for people who have sugar concerns; it helps manage your blood sugar.
Mike: I notice you also have quite a bit of CoQ10 in your formula.
Kunin: Absolutely. One of the things that really makes us stand out is that a lot of the energy products I'm sure you've seen are loaded with stimulants -- caffeine, Ephedra, ma huang, whatever it may be. CoQ10 is a remarkable antioxidant. It's known as the supreme anti-aging antioxidant. It has been shown to reverse congestive heart failure, but its primary role is at the mitochondria, providing the electron transport in the cell, feeding the energy in the cell. The difference is that CoQ10 costs about $5,000 per kilo, as compared to caffeine, which is relatively cheap.
Mike: Very expensive. You have more CoQ10 in this than I've seen in many whole foods.
Kunin: Absolutely. It's interesting; we're providing cellular energy on one side and, through the amino acid mix, we're getting into the production of a number of key amino acid transactions, including the production of L-Lysine, which is the key to muscle energy. People who are athletic and active love it. They get stronger, they have more energy and their repair of connective tissue is enhanced. It has remarkable effects on detoxifying the liver, so again it's a very strategic formula. The products were developed in a very unique place. My father was one of the founders of orthomolecular medicine in America. He and the Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling really founded the movement. My dad was the first medical doctor in America to start doing nutrient analysis on his patients and then integrate vitamin therapy into disease treatment, back in the 1960s and the early 70s.
Kunin: So, actually about 40 years of medical research has gone into the development of the programs. In the past 10 years, much of the work that we've been doing has centered around pro-clotting factors and analyzing our patients for these clotting factors. If you're clotting, you're at risk for all the majors -- heart disease, stroke, cancer and blood vessel damage.
Kunin: We now are able to identify things like homocysteine, fibrinogen and lipoproteins. These are all big words. It's not really important for you to remember the words, but understand that these aspects to blood chemistry make your blood thicken and that's something you don't want. So when you study it, you learn about how methylation factors play a vital role in being able to manage this homocysteine pro-clotting factor, the methionine pathway and, you know, glutathione production. There's some neat science behind the products.
Mike: And there is also a lot of clinical experience.
Kunin: Absolutely. Our product is used by numerous physicians in the field of orthomolecular medicine.
Mike: What about the source of these vitamins? This is going to be a big question from consumers out there. They prefer natural sources, plant-based sources.
Kunin: Sure. Virtually everything is plant based when practical. The other sources are all USP-grade vitamins; everything is checked before we even start blending; everything has a certificate of analysis. Let me give you an interesting perspective of how you can tell the difference between super-high quality and kind of low-end. I think we all recognize vitamin B12 as being critically important and hard to get. Most people have a tough time getting their B12. The vast majority of B12 on the market today is known as "cyanocobalamin," a toxic form of B12. In the most extreme case, if you inject somebody with a cyanocobalamin injection and they have weak antioxidant protection, they run the risk of going blind or having neurological problems. Okay, so we don't use any cyanocobalamin. We use hydroxycobalamin in this product, which the body is able to regulate and utilize much more. It doesn't leave any toxic residue in your body, and through the methyl events that take place in the product, you wind up with methylcobalamin. So, you're really getting the best of both worlds, in terms of your B12.
Mike: That's a sourcing decision in your formulation that the consumer is typically not aware of. You can't read the label and figure this out.
Kunin: Absolutely. The difference, to give you a perspective, is that we're spending an extra $4,000 a kilo to get this form of B12. Almost everyone uses the cyanocobalamin form because it's the cheapest form of B12 on the market today and it satisfies the label claim. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work very well.
Mike: Let's talk about the compliance issue, meaning how well you stick to the program of taking your supplements. With this product, it seems like compliance is going to be higher.
Kunin: The compliance is remarkable. The neatest thing about our product is that people will have a dose and they can actually feel the difference. I've never really heard anybody say, "I took a vitamin pill and I could feel the difference." When you take a look at the studies out there, you start to find that the average person loses about 70 percent of the tablet's nutrient content. Tablets are difficult to absorb, break down and get into your system. Like I said at the beginning of our interview here, sick people have malabsorption problems or digestive problems. They don't have the opportunity to get the nutrients, especially pre-liver. So for every dollar that they're spending on tablets, they may be losing 70, 80 or even 90 cents. A product like ours is bioavailable and colloidal, which simply means that it dissolves in liquid and then goes right into your system.
Mike: It starts right in the mouth.
Kunin: The moment you put it into your mouth, it's actually a sublingual type of an experience. Within minutes, you can feel the difference. Virtual 100 percent availability; it's a remarkable difference.
Mike: What are you seeing in terms of people being able to stick to this program? Do you have any kind of data on what percent are with it after three months, for example?
Kunin: Well, the interesting thing is that retailers where the products are sold consistently tell us how their sales continuously increase, that people come into the stores and say how good they feel and not only that they take it, but that they share it. The neat thing about our product line is, yes, you are getting remarkable nutrient support, but at the same time, you're also having an incredible experience with a delicious drink. For example, I've heard from people, who are addicted to coffee, addicted to soft drinks and realize they need to find an alternative. They want to bring in more water to their diet and this has been a phenomenal experience for them.
Mike: I've just tasted it; it's sort of like a sports-drink taste. Is that a fair description?
Kunin: I think the neat thing about it is that it has an effervescent quality to it. As it mixes, the effervescent nature of it diminishes, so it's not an explosive effervescence.
Kunin: We have two flavors right now -- an orange flavor and a tropical flavor, which is kind of a mixed blend with a pineapple base. It can be used with almost anything, I mean, from water to fruit drinks to smoothies, so you can use the product in a lot of different ways.
Mike: I'm curious, have you looked at using stevia as one of the sweeteners?
Kunin: We are using stevia. Stevia's one of the ingredients we have.
Mike: Oh, it is?
Kunin: Yes. That's why we have very little fructose in there with a hint of stevia, as a means to get that balance. We've got 36 key nutrients in there -- a gram dose of TNG, a gram of glycine, a gram of vitamin C. The interesting thing is that, when you're doing a supplement drink that's this nutrient-rich, you have to get the very best ingredients, or the taste itself can be just horrific. You also have to be able to do this without loading it up with sugar. Other products I've seen on the market are up to 90 percent sugar.
Kunin: It's an absurdity.
Mike: Well, there are a variety of products being positioned as healthy that have no business being called natural or healthy at all.
Kunin: It's frustrating. What I've learned in the industry is frustrating because I come from a medical background – working in my father's medical practice – and there's a lot of integrity behind our product. Ultimately, it became a powder because of my son. When my son was two years old, we were looking at doing an entire line of pill products. One day, the light bulb went off for me and I realized no one likes taking pills. No one could stick with the program and I wasn't going to be able to share this with my son. I realized there's more to life than just taking pills.
Mike: It's also nice to see medical doctors backing this, being involved in and promoting this kind of product. As you know, nutritional knowledge is lacking in conventionally trained doctors who don't take the time to learn more.
Kunin: This is the irony: There is more research on the human body, in terms of the biochemical pathways of the human body, than in all the drugs combined. I think what we've all seen recently with the scandal with the pharmaceutical industry and the lack of science behind some of these products is atrocious. I mean, the bottom line is, there really is no difference between a food and a supplement. A supplement is just nutrient-rich food and I think most people will acknowledge the fact that it's getting harder and harder to get real quality nutrient support from your food.
Mike: Sure, the nutritional quality of the food is declining.
Kunin: Well, there are tremendous demands from an increased population and trying to get as much as you possibly can per acre, but the bottom line is that we're all eating to satisfy individual biochemical needs. Each one of us is different, based on two factors: Lifestyle and genetics. Without any one vitamin in your body, life ceases to exist. That’s what's so dramatic. What's really exciting now is that we're really in the most remarkable state. When my dad started doing this in the 60s, we were just doing vitamin screening. Then in the 70s and mid-80s, we started working with toxins. My father was one of the people who developed the hair test, working with heavy metals. Then in the 80s and early 90s, we started working on identifying these pro-clotting factors and being able to identify who was at risk from the major clotting factors.
Now, for the first time, we're learning that there is such a thing as genetic mutations and we're doing genetic work with all of our patients. Recently, my father gave a talk with about 500 doctors. He started the talk by asking, "How many of you think your patients have genetic mutations?" About four or five hands went up. Because it's so new, only a handful of doctors are doing this kind of work. My Dad had to tell them that in the past year and a half, 100 percent across the board, all of our sick patients have genetic mutations. I'll give you an example: We're now learning that some people have a problem with their folic acid, which is critical for life support and life function. They have an inability to actively utilize their folic acid and convert it to the active form known as folinic acid. So we do a test -- the MTHFR, which is a folate reductase test -- and you can see clearly that they've got this genetic mutation. No one knows why it's there, but B vitamins in particular are at risk because of these mutations and the body's ability to utilize them. I mean, for folic acid, we're talking about microgram doses; we're trying to get four to 600 micrograms a day -- a microgram, we're talking about less than a milligram. You're consuming pounds and pounds of food, and think about it; your body has an inability to get a milligram of folic acid into your system. For the first time in human civilization, we can actually see it. We can actually identify what's going on with blood chemistry and we're now realizing that we're all a little different because of this. We need to take this into consideration.
Mike: It seems to me that your father's work has been really on the cutting edge every decade in medicine, which means he must have thick skin, by the way, because the critics have always been a couple of decades behind nutrition.
Kunin: You know, it's interesting. My father wrote Mega Nutrition and Mega Nutrition for Women, in the 80s.
Mike: What's your father's name, by the way?
Kunin: My father's name is Richard Kunin. We're talking about a guy who graduated medical school in 1955 and went to work at New York Hospital in the 50s. He came out West and went to do his postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford. So, he came from the somewhat-conventional, orthodox school of medicine but he understood biochemistry. He was really taken by Linus Pauling's work and could understand the relationship. He delved into human biochemistry and understanding the biochemical pathways of the human body. That's what has motivated him for the past 40 years. He still continues and we're in private practice today in San Francisco. At the same time, he's been able to communicate very effectively with his colleagues in the conventional medical world. He is currently the President of the Society for Orthomolecular Health Medicine, in which university professors and medical doctors train other doctors to learn about human biochemistry. He was on the President's Council for Vitamin Therapy, so he's able to represent and communicate in a way which makes it understandable, even for medical doctors.
Mike: That's great to hear. Now the product again is OlaLoa.
Kunin: If people want to learn more, they can always go to our website, which is at www.drinkyourvitamins.com.
Mike: In terms of being able to find this product at local health food stores, where can people locate it?
Kunin: We're at all the major health food stores -- from Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Vitamin Shops to your local mom and pop health food store.
Mike: So, if people just remember "Drink Your Vitamins," that's your trademark.
Kunin: Drinkyourvitamins.com, that'll get you to where you need to go.
Mike: Okay, Greg, perfect. Thank you so much for taking the time to describe your product and philosophy.
Kunin: It's been my pleasure.