When a former corporate finance executive and MIT grad’s own growing interest in nutrition and fitness turned to disillusionment with existing supplement offerings, he launched a company dedicated to overhauling the most popular supplement categories and simplifying the consumer experience.
“There are so many products out there, it’s very overwhelming, confusing and hard to differentiate from a consumer standpoint,” Adam Leeb, founder of Detroit, MI-based SunDaily Health, told NutraIngredients-USA. “Even if you do a little research, it’s hard to tell which products work together, which products have scientific backing, which products should be taken longer-term and which should only be taken for a short time. We felt there was an opportunity and need in the market for a more honest company driven to make the consumer experience easier.”
Leeb founded SunDaily in 2011. Its flagship supplement, Superlux, is essentially a face-lifted version of the multivitamin, a product whose potential was being sorely underutilized, Leeb said.
“What really kind of hit the nail on the head for me was that multivitamins are the most widely taken product in the supplement category, and yet 75 to 77% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. How can so many people be deficient if the multivitamin supposedly contains exactly what we need every day?”
Most existing multivitamin formulas based on outdated research and standards
Through his research, he found that most multivitamin formulas are based off decades-old research and standards. “What people often do is they first buy a multivitamin, but then their nutritionist or doctor says they still need more of some vitamin or mineral. So they buy an additional product. I thought that was silly. So we really wanted to refresh the multivitamin from the ground up.”
Line by line, through all 24 essential daily vitamins and minerals, SunDaily reformulated the multivitamin to better reflect what consumers need (and how much) based on the modern US diet and lifestyle.
“So much research has been coming out about importance of maintaining D levels, particularly with the risk of working inside all day in the corporate world and living in the northern parts of the country translating to D deficiency. Basically everybody needs more vitamin D, so we added 2,000 units to our multivitamin, four to five times as much as most multis on the market.”
Superlux is also formulated with 100mg of CoQ10, an antioxidant touted for cardiovascular and cognitive benefits, though not typically added in high dosages due to cost. SunDaily also added a full dose (120 micrograms) of vitamin K2, which is coming up the ranks in scientific research for its role in bone and cardiovascular health. (Plus, recent studies have shown that many healthy people are actually K2 deficient .)
Moreover, the cheaper form of (retinol-based) vitamin A was replaced with mixed carotenoids naturally derived from plants that are “richer in antioxidants”; and 10mg of mixed tocotrienols (a more potent, nontoxic form of vitamin E) were added, while traditional vitamin E levels were reduced to 50IU to prevent over-supplementation. Superlux doesn't contain iron or folic acid either, which Leeb said reflects the most current research on necessary dosage levels. The formula doesn’t use carbonates or oxides—“only the most absorbable forms of each ingredient,” he noted.
Superlux costs the consumer about $1 a day, but Leeb noted that because one pill is the equivalent of taking four to six products, the value proposition makes sense very quickly to the consumer.
Industry ‘mired’ in marketing speak
Given his background in product development (and rather unapologetic distaste for many existing supplement marketers), Leeb has gravitated toward a more simplistic approach toward marketing and product development with SunDaily. The firm also markets high-potency fish oil (33% EPA, 22% DHA) and 5,000 IU vitamin D3 supplements, with no immediate plans to expand the line further.
“I really appreciate clarity in speaking and believe that what you say is what you should mean and vice versa,” he said. “The supplement industry is mired by an incredible amount of aggrandizing and marketing speak. Since we’re trying to hook consumers and establish brand loyalty, we think that lends itself to an opportunity to be honest and transparent. We want to show people, these are the things we like for these reasons. We're trying not to bombard them with information they can't or don't want to use.”
Leeb added that rather than trying to “go to the Amazon and pick out the next best herb,” SunDaily wants to “take what’s already out there and curate it for consumers to give them the confidence that they’ve made the right choice.”
Bringing the products to the markets where our customers are already going
The products are sold online and in 15 retailers across Detroit. The firm is currently focused on ramping up distribution in areas where Leeb is sure the target customer already is, because he's one of them.
“We’re working with a lot of gyms actually,” he said. “The people we’re trying to target are much like ourselves—people working in corporate jobs who do intensity workouts like spin class or cross fit because they don’t have a lot of time. They’re interested in paying a little more for quality, convenience and ease of mind by buying curated products instead of doing the research themselves. So we want to bring our products to the markets where those people are already going.”