Dan McBride, the driving force behind the brand and the parent company, called Thin Fit Line, has been a volunteer firefighter as well as a corrections officer. His father was career firefighter who rose to become a captain and a fire commissioner.
Particular nutritional needs
McBride said those experiences gave him insight into the particular nutritional needs of the high stress professions that together made up first responders: law enforcement, EMTs, firefighters, etc.
"Knowing the stresses of the job made me recognize how important fitness and nutrition is for these career fields, not only physically but mentally," said McBride.
McBride noted that PTSD, depression and cancer all trend higher among first responders than in the general population, something he attributes at least in part to subpar diets.
He also observed that a 2018 report showed that in 2017 more firefighters and police officers took their own lives than were killed in the line of duty. McBride said he believes poor nutrition could have played a role there, too.
"I remember what it was like sleeping at the fire station, waking up all hours responding to calls and then going to a full-time job the next day. I was practically running on fumes. And I remember the long mandatory 16-hour shifts around hundreds of inmates, always wondering if or when they would strike. I remember watching brothers and sisters fall ill because they weren't taking proper care of themselves during those long stressful hours,” he said.
The new supplement, called Heroes Pack, is a multi ingredient vitamin and phytonutrient product packaged as five capsules and a tablet in single serving packets. A month’s supply is retailing from about $29 to $40.
Complicated formulation process
The product is advertised to contain extracts or powders from 42 fruits and vegetables and more than 50 herbs, as well as a full suite of vitamins. Among the botanical constituents are pine bark extract, feverfew, stinging nettle, Ginkgo biloba, Rhodiola rosea and echinacea. The product also contains a cordyceps extract as well as spirulina.
“The brand itself took about a year of planning and organizing to get the product up and running,” he said.
McBride said part of the formulation process was getting feedback from first responders themselves, to find out what they were eating and where their diets might be lacking essential nutrients.
“That included me putting out a survey to first responders to find out what they were lacking in their day to day life,” McBride said.
Also, he said his sense of responsibility to that community meant he wanted to be sure the product was the highest quality possible at his price point.
“I wanted to make sure we found the best contract manufacturer available. In particular, I looked at where they were getting their ingredients. I wanted as little from overseas as possible,” he said.
“I look at us as more of a community and support group for first responders,” McBride said. “Our main focus is giving the first responders be something they can be proud of and something that will be helping them in their day to day lives to stay healthy.”
“We’re trying to give them the message that maybe they don’t need to be downing that energy drink after a long shift, or stopping off for fast food on their way home,” he said.