Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, many people have decided to put more focus on prevention and protecting their health through adopting a better diet and taking supplements to boost their immunity. But nutritional supplements are not all the same. We met up with Cheryl Thallon, Founder and MD of ethical vitamin company Viridian Nutrition, who tells us how to make the best choices when choosing supplements.
Q1/ Can you tell us a bit about your company?
We are a family-owned UK based ethical nutritional supplements company founded in 1999 with a 220+ range of award-winning vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, nutritional oils, tinctures and balms formulated to be healthful, efficacious and pure. Our products are distributed through local independent health food stores.
Q2/ How and why was Viridian Nutrition set up?
As a vegetarian from the age of 18, I fell in love with the natural products movement while working in specialist health food stores. Co-author of Vegetarian Edinburgh and ex-editor of Natural Food Trader magazine, I became interested in nutrition and food supplements, launching Viridian Nutrition.
Our mission at Viridian Nutrition is to bring health and wellbeing to everything we touch. From the fields where our ingredients are grown through to the recycling bank where our glass bottles are recycled, we wish to follow the ethical principle of ‘care for others as we care for ourselves’.
Q3/ What are the most important things people should consider when choosing supplements and natural health products?
Viridian Nutrition certainly believes in food first. However, experts also believe that due to intensive farming practices, the soil is becoming depleted of key nutrients, and so fruit and vegetables are not as nutritious as they once were. Even the Government recommends multivitamins and vitamin D and folic acid to various groups including slimmers, pregnant women, those who exercise, the elderly, those on restricted diets, vegans, vegetarians, junk food addicts, those with certain health issues, smokers, drinkers and other lifestyle choices are all recommended to check their vitamin and mineral status.
We strongly recommend checking the label for 100% active ingredients to ensure there’s no binders, fillers, like titanium dioxide or flavours or colourings. Make sure the supplements are sourced sustainably and ethically.
Q4/ Why do you believe it is important for natural health products to be certified organic?
The term ‘organic’ is now being widely used in marketing but you can only be sure that a product is truly organically grown if the product is certified by a reputable regulatory body such as the Soil Association.
Within the UK, the Soil Association, a trusted regulatory body, sets the highest standard for organic accreditation. For a food or food supplement to be called organic, every stage in the supply chain has to meet organic standards and be certified to prove it. All organic farms and food companies are inspected at least once a year. They need to prove that robust systems are in place with paperwork that shows the standards have been met. Approved organic products carry the Soil Association logo, so look for that on the label.
Here at Viridian Nutrition, more than 75 products in the range are certified organic by the Soil Association further enhancing the provenance and the eco-friendliness of the ingredients. This is far and away the largest certified organic supplement range available in the UK.
Q5/ What is your approach to packaging and what steps are you taking to reduce your carbon footprint as a business?
Being fully committed to green business practices, Viridian Nutrition values the importance of a minimum footprint on the earth. From the seed to the recycling bank, Viridian maintains an ethical philosophy at every stage.
The dark amber glass we use for our jars and bottles shields the contents from heat or light and can be recycled. The black metal lids on our jars are a recyclable aluminium. The tamper-evident over-seal on bottles is made from a plant-based polylactic acid (PLA). We offer a 25p refund for bottles returned to the health store where purchased.
Supplements shipped from our warehouse are sent using recyclable / re-usable cardboard packaging and protected with recycled paper padding.
More recently we’ve reduced the size of the glass bottles to more closely match the contents – equating to a 35% reduction of the Viridian’s individual supplements, resulting in a 12.5 tonne reduction in total packaging weight.
Q6/ How can people buy your products if they’re interested? And do you offer advice about certain conditions?
Choosing the right supplement programme for personal needs can be confusing. Independent health food stores have staff who are qualified and/or experienced in helping with dietary and lifestyle modifications, providing a more holistic approach.
Health food stores are also a one-stop shop for everything natural, ethical and environmental: vegan, wholefoods, organics, raw foods, allergy-free foods, vitamins, minerals and much more. So it makes sense to work with these essential services. There are more than 1,000 independent health stores across the UK and Ireland, to find your nearest Viridian Nutrition stockist, visit findahealthstore.com.
We also have a customer helpline manned by a team of qualified nutritionists who can be contacted on 01327 368333 Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm.
For anyone with a particular health condition or concern, please first contact a health professional (a GP or a qualified practitioner) to ensure you have correct diagnosis.
Q7/ What have been your most popular products during the coronavirus pandemic and why do you think that is?
Viridian’s product query advice line has certainly received a significant number of phone calls enquiring about immune supporting nutrients over recent weeks. We’ve seen new customers coming to us looking for ways to proactively manage their health and multivitamins have been a good option for many people to bolster their diet.
We’ve found new customers have come to Viridian because of our ethical principles: purity, environment and community, which resonate with many people. Our range is non-GM, clean label and certified organic where possible – attributes which are increasingly important for people. We are against animal testing, we use minimum packaging and we are the world’s first palm-oil free vitamin company. All of which has helped us achieve a maximum score in The Good Shopping Guide for ethical vitamins.
Q8/ Do you think it’s important that people choose certified organic laundry and cleaning products?
Without a doubt. Organic means working with nature and avoiding the use of harsh chemicals so there’s a bigger and more positive impact on your health and the environment.