Better Being Review: A Family of Wellness

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Dr. Jennifer Hughes, MD
Medical Reviewer

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Welcome to our Better Being review!

We usually review individual brands, but we knew we had to cover Better Being—a family of over 30 wellness brands—after personally meeting with them at Natural Products Expo East 2022.

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It didn’t take long for us to learn that Better Being is far from a hands-off parent company, imposing strict ingredient testing and quality standards on the dozens of nutrition, body care, and wellness companies they own.

If you’re tired of vetting a new company for every healthcare product you develop a liking to, familiarizing yourself with Better Being is a great way to buy in confidence across the board.

The Better Being Family Tree

As Chief Innovation and Science Officer Max Willis and Nikita Austen of the Innovation Team explained to us, Better Being divides their brands into two major camps: supplements and body care.

The most prominent brands on the supplement side include the following:

And for the beauty and body care side:

This smaller sampling alone accounts for a huge range of wellness products, including supplements, vitamins, feminine care products, deodorant, and much more.

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And to think, this is a pared-down version of the Better Being family at its peak size, which “Came to a point of 60 brands,” Max informed us while briefly channeling the energy of an exhausted parent—but more on the history of the brand below.

For now, here’s a closer look at some of the leading nutrition companies driving each side of the Better Being family.

Top Brands

Solaray

Known for their pure and highly absorbable vitamins, minerals, herbs, and more, Solaray is Better Being’s leading brand.

“Food Is Not Enough” is a slogan oft-repeated by the Solaray team, as it was by Better Being when we saw them at Natural Products Expo East 2022, and for good reason.

It’s true that, whether we’re talking food or supplements, the human body only absorbs a portion of the nutritional content, which is why Solaray uses liposomal technology to power their many vitamins and multi-vitamins.

Liposomal Vitamin C
  • Description

    Fortified within fatty micro-bubbles known as liposomes for enhanced absorption across cell membranes, Solaray’s 500mg Liposomal Vitamin C is a next-level immune booster.

KAL

Established way back in 1932 as the first calcium supplement brand, KAL has since expanded their offering (by a ton) to include probiotics, adrenal complexes, amino acids, minerals, letter vitamins, and dozens of other supplements.

In addition to developing the first calcium powder, KAL developed the first multivitamin, and they were a founding member of the Natural Products Association (formerly known as the National Nutritional Foods Association).

KAL has also received recognition for their instant-dissolve tablets.

DLPA 750mg
  • Description

    Guaranteed by KAL to be completely pure (no added ingredients) and available in a 50:50 ratio, this DL-Phenylalanine supplement delivers a clean dose of the brain-boosting amino acid.

Zhou Nutrition

Headquartered just “down the road” a bit from Better Being HQ is Salt-Lake-City-based Zhou Nutrition, which was formed by a coalition of active folks (runners, yogis, etc.) who grew tired of the state of the supplement industry.

Zhou Nutrition prides themselves on creating clean, lab-tested, and science-backed supplements in their GMP facilities for all walks of life.

Their 60-strong product catalog targets immunity, hair growth, metabolism (thyroid health), mood, athletic performance, cognition, and much more.

Since we’ve been on our nootropic grind lately, we’ll feature one of Zhou’s most lauded products—Neuro-Peak capsules.

Neuro-Peak Capsules
  • Description

    Fight brain fog, enhance memory, and more with Zhou Neuro-Peak Capsules, which showcase a potent blend of proven nootropics like Bacopa monnieri, Huperzine serrata, Ginkgo biloba and more.

Life-flo

Making our way to the personal care side of Better Being, Life-flo clearly echoes the same standards of cleanliness, testing, etc. in a more cosmetic context.

It’s not all creams, butters, and scrubs, though—Life-flo still offers a selection of orally ingested supplements like biotin, iodine, collagen, magnesium, and other products known to help with skin, hair, and nails.

For 25 years, the for-women, by-women company has committed themselves to creating well-formulated topicals and other supplements with organic ingredients and no animal testing, artificial colors, or parabens.

Life-flo Progesta-Care Body Cream
  • Description

    Delivering roughly 20mg of plant-derived (yam) progesterone per pump, this clean and gentle Progesta-Care Body Cream is an excellent way for women to optimize their progesterone level.

Theraneem

Bringing an often overlooked remedy to much-deserved prominence, Theraneem relies on a millennia-old remedy—the neem tree—throughout their collection of hair, skin, nails, and other body care products. 

Native to India and the surrounding regions, neem oil is loaded with fatty acids, vitamin E, triglycerides, antioxidants, and calcium.

Theraneem uses a supercritical extraction process to produce their 100% organic, highly pure neem seed oil, which they use in their cleansing bars, oil tinctures, shampoos, lotions, and much more.

Neem Cream—Original Vanilla
  • Description

    Fun rhyming aside, Neem Cream by Theraneem Naturals is a gentle heavyweight fighting for your skin, delivering a powerful helping of antioxidants, key fatty acids, and more in a paraben- and sulfate-free formulation.

The Better Being Origin Story

A few weeks after flexing a couple Solaray and Zhou products for us at Natural Products Expo East 2022, Better Being Chief Innovation and Science Officer Max Willis regaled us over a Zoom meeting—how familiar—with the history of the company.

Per Max, Better Being is a Utah-based company formerly known as Nutraceutical corporation that manufactures over 90% of what they sell through their 30+ health and wellness brands.

It was founded by “two or three passionate people,” in his words, that wanted to consolidate the rapidly expanding selection of brands in the nutritional space.

As Better Being worked to build a fence around the top brands in the nutrition world for clarity and quality’s sake (even in the late 90s/early 2000s, health food stores were getting wild), they acquired such key players as Solaray (est. 1973) and KAL (est. 1932).

We are still today the number one distributor unit-wise of products in health food stores.

Max Willis, Chief Innovation and Science Officer at Better Being

It was from this foundation that Better Being began to launch and acquire nutrition brands at an often blistering pace, eventually arriving at the aforementioned mass of 60 brands, which they’ve since whittled down.

As for the “major major” milestones, that brings us to today, an era in which Better Being holds a dominant position throughout nutrition, body care, and other intersecting industries.

“We are still today the number one distributor unit-wise of products in health food stores,” Max explained, going on to describe the considerably more stringent (than e-commerce) requirements imposed on nutrition companies distributing to brick-and-mortar stores.

Primarily, Better Being is focused on operating at a business-to-business (B2B) level; we’ll dive into their strategies and standards more in the review portion.

Our Better Being Review

Where we would normally include customer service tests and pricing (for individual brand reviews), we’re going to keep the focus on overall quality, transparency, and brand value for the entirely different animal that is the Better Being family of brands.

First things first, we wanted to know: with so many raw materials coming in and products going out from your 30+ brands, how can you ensure a high level of quality?

Overall Quality

Summary:

From their well-credentialed science board to their unapologetically tight testing standards for all suppliers, Better Being makes a strong stand for overall quality.

In two words, we would summarize Better Being’s attitude towards both ingredient and product quality as follows: show me.

Every raw ingredient Better Being receives from suppliers—whether newly acquainted or well-established—is tested by a team of about 30 analysts at Better Being’s in-house chem lab.

Even when the supplier includes a Certificate of Analysis (COA) certifying that the ingredient(s) has been already tested, Better Being conducts their own testing to confirm or refute the results.

This practice has led Max and his fellow team members (“beings?”) to a sobering revelation as in-house test results continue to differ from some COAs: many suppliers in the states and across the world “Will sell you about anything you’re willing to buy,” he said.

Speaking of suppliers across the world, Better Being sources 4,000 raw materials from all over.

“If maca is native to Peru, that’s where we like to buy our maca. If turmeric is native to India, that’s where we like to buy our turmeric,” Max explained.

Because of their insistence on product testing, which sees the vast majority of first-time suppliers rejected on the grounds of quality, purity, etc., Better Being does not discriminate on the source itself.

If it comes from China or wherever else, then, any raw ingredient that proves itself in the testing lab as clean, authentic, and pure is qualified for manufacturing.

As for their level of supply chain oversight, Better Being directly owns roughly 90% of the manufacturing process.

If maca is native to Peru, that’s where we like to buy our maca. If turmeric is native to India, that’s where we like to buy our turmeric.

Max Willis, Chief Innovation and Science Officer at Better Being

They’re relying on contract manufacturers at the moment for liquid softgels, but liquids, powders, tablets, gummies, and several other product types are all handled in-house.

Finally, the Better Being Science Advisory and Education team is dotted with well-credentialed doctors, registered dieticians, and more, such as Dr. Pamela Peeke (board chair), who worked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a senior fellow in the Office of Alternative Medicine.

Transparency

Summary:

With few exceptions, the Better Being site and the crew were very upfront about both customer-facing and more logistical details pertaining to the company.

Both at Natural Products Expo East 2022 and the ensuing Zoom interview, Max (and Nikita at the Expo) were very forthcoming in answering all our questions.

Per our earlier comments, Max dished on everything from testing and sourcing to the history of the company, including the vetting process for suppliers, Better Being’s strategy and major operations, and more

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As for the Better Being website—we won’t comment on the 30+ websites of their brands for obvious reasons—we found relatively fluff-free breakdowns of the company’s history, standards, personnel, and more. 

The science page merits a shoutout as well for its detailed description of the analytical equipment Better Being uses to test ingredients, the science behind their formulation rationale, and stability testing for finished products, among other key practices.

Finally, though it could be a bit more consolidated and closer to center stage, the Better Being site provides a basic overview of their supply chain structure, i.e., where products are sourced from (in general—I mean, it’s 60 countries), where manufacturing occurs, and several of the specifics within each process.

Overall, we found Better Being to practice a confidence-inspiring level of transparency that gives customers a solid picture beyond the “promotional layer” and into the actual gears of the company.

Brand Value

Summary:

Better Being presents a well-rounded example of a company that disrupts and elevates its industry while giving back generously.

This broader review category seeks to measure and summarize the impact a given brand has had on their industry (and any outside communities via philanthropy/advocacy), which entails many factors such as the following:

  • Innovation
  • Philanthropy
  • Industry disruption
  • Institutional knowledge
  • Sustainability
  • Elevating public nutrition

The theme of the day, it seems, has been the stringent, research-driven formulation and testing standards upheld by Better Being, which counts for institutional knowledge and—unfortunately—industry disruption.

On the one hand, simply doing things better counts in our book as at least slightly innovative, but Better Being isn’t afraid to roll out cutting-edge products if they are actually proven to work.

A perfect example of this is Zhou’s Plant Complete Protein, showcased to us by Nikita Austen at Natural Health Products Expo East 2022, which obtained a perfect PDCAAS (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score) of 1.

nikita austen of better being discusses zhou nutrition protein powder

The PDCAAS evaluation measures the quality of a protein based on the amino acid profile and its digestibility, meaning Zhou Plant “Complete” Protein is, well, complete and very easy to digest.

And so it goes with many products across the Better Being family, but taking a step back for a moment, we would describe the brand’s practical value as a call to clarity for health-conscious customers in an increasingly noisy health food industry.

By consolidating some of the best brands in the health food and body care industries and keeping their standards uniform throughout, Better Being has organized a sizable chunk of the health food store shelves while assuring customers they can trust their products.

Finally, philanthropy is no small effort at Better Being, which, through its various brands like Solaray, supports Vitamin Angels, Earth Save, Utah women’s shelters, and more, including an initiative to plant a million trees.

Final Thoughts

It would take a whole lot of research to give a truly comprehensive and incisive review of every Better Being brand, but from this broader perspective, it’s easy to see they’re taking testing, sourcing, transparency, and overall quality seriously.

Knowing that Better Being rejects the majority of first-time suppliers on the basis of tested quality lends confidence to the consumer that they are actually being advocated for by actions, not just words.

Better Being’s ownership of the supply chain signals a commitment to consistency not shared by many competitors of their size, and the active role of the Science Advisory and Education Team in formulation research goes beyond the usual, notary-like functions of many more passive and detached consultant boards. 

From our vantage point, Better Being comes off as a conscientious, quality-focused brand that isn’t afraid to simply say no to low-quality practices, whatever the cost.

When asked what he wanted to share with our audience point-blank, Max said, “Look for a company that’s not in it for the money, and that’s doing something of value for the consumers. As one of the last companies that’s independently owned and made in the USA, we’re not forced to do what a large drug company wants us to do.”



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