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Vitamin Angels: Addressing Malnutrition All Over the World

From the Show: Naturally Savvy
Summary: Malnutrition and vitamin deficiency is a huge issue all over the world, including developed countries like the U.S.
Air Date: 10/22/14
Duration: 10
Host: Andrea Donsky, RHN and Lisa Davis, MPH
Guest Bio: Howard B. Schiffer
After a successful career in the natural foods industry developing quality products and turning them into best sellers through innovative marketing and promotions, Howard Schiffer founded Vitamin Angels in 1994.

Today, Vitamin Angels is one of the largest distributors of micronutrients, specifically vitamin A, to at-risk populations in need globally. In 2013, Vitamin Angels connected over 30,000,000 children in 45 countries, including the U.S., with lifesaving and life changing micronutrients.

In 2003, Howard was honored with the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance’s, DSEA Hero Award for his work in “making a difference in the lives of so many children throughout our country and around the world.”

Howard has been honored numerous times for his commitment to Vitamin Angels’ mission, receiving awards including: a 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nutrition Business Journal; the Golden Temple and Peace Cereal’s Socially Responsible Business Award; the Outstanding Achievement Award from the NNFA; the Global Humanitarian Award from Vivekanand Ashram, India; the 2011 Humanitarian Award at Virgo Publishing’s Focus on the Future Conference; Global Champion for Children award by Point Loma Nazarene University, and others.

He was awarded the Key to the City of Lowell Massachusetts by Major Bud Caulfield, and, in 2010, Howard accepted a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from the office of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas of the Fifth Congressional District of Massachusetts on behalf of Vitamin Angels.

Howard and Vitamin Angels’ work have been featured in a number of major news and media outlets including United Hemispheres Magazine, Money Magazine, and Good Day L.A. amongst numerous industry specific publications.

Under Howard’s leadership, Vitamin Angels has twice been named a Top 10 “Highly Rated Charity Relying Solely on Private Contributions” by Charity Navigator in addition to earning five consecutive 4-star ratings from America’s Premier Charity Evaluator.

Howard is the author of three books. He has three children and lives with his wife in Santa Barbara, California.
Vitamin Angels: Addressing Malnutrition All Over the World
Malnutrition and vitamin deficiency is a huge issue all over the world.

The phrase you might have heard growing up when you didn't want to finish your broccoli, "There are starving children in Africa," is very true.

But, there are also issues with under-nutrition in developed countries as well, including the United States and Canada.

Howard Schiffer wanted to do something about that. In 1994, he founded Vitamin Angels, which is a non-profit organization that works to get vitamin supplements to at-risk populations; specifically pregnant women, new moms and children under five years old so they can have the life-saving and life-changing nutrients that will really give them the chance to live healthy and productive lives.

The inspiration to keep forging ahead with this organization comes from the moms and children Howard and his team work with all around the world. They have grown to learn what an amazing difference simple nutrients can make in those individuals' lives.

Where did the idea come from?

Back in 1994, Howard was in the vitamin and supplement industry, but not really fulfilled with his career.

He thought, "I know all these people and have all these connections... I should be able to do something with that." But, at the time, he didn't know how to connect the dots of people and knowledge to those in need.

Then, there was an earthquake in Southern California and he got a call from a medical relief agency. This agency wanted vitamins for the migrant farm workers who were displaced from their homes, and specifically for the young children in those families.

In the follow-up, Howard met with the agency's program director and learned that there is such a need for vitamins around the world, including communities in the United States.

What really opened Howard's eyes was that something as simple as high-dose vitamin A -- just two capsules a year -- could prevent childhood blindness in hundreds of thousands of children around the world.

How has Vitamin Angels made a difference?

In Howard's initial visits to places like Kenya, he would witness pregnant women eating dirt as their only source of nutrients. These women know that's not good; that there is all sorts of bad things in the soil such as bacteria, germs and parasites, but their bodies are craving minerals and it's truly their only source.

Not only that, but when they did give birth, their nutritional levels were so low, they could not produce enough milk to nourish their babies.

But, with the help of the Vitamin Angels organization, these women can now have healthy babies and improve their own health.

It hasn't solved the problem completely, but it has helped resolve the huge problem of chronic malnutrition, under-nutrition and severe vitamin deficiencies in these villages and communities.

Tune in as Howard joins Andrea and Lisa to share more about Vitamin Angels, as well as what which specific vitamins are making such a huge impact on those in need.