Last Updated on March 30, 2020
If any of you are currently looking for a job or you’ve recently graduated from college, then you’ve probably attended a career fair or two.
If you haven’t, there’s a common saying that gets passed around, one that attempts to distinguish between the two main types of jobs.
The first type is a job where you make money for a company, doing your work day in day out, focusing on punching the clock.
The second type is a job where your work is something that you really believe in, something that benefits other people, including yourself.
The advice that tends to follow is that you should focus on finding the second type of job, one that you’re going to enjoy and that will keep you satisfied with the knowledge that your work is helping to make life better.
Today we’d like to talk about a profession that really does have a positive impact on the world at large.
Ursula Munoz-Najar is a Senior Research Scientist and Clinical Research Coordinator with Lang Pharma Nutrition, an American manufacturer that focuses on nutraceutical food and beverages and nutritional supplements.
Munoz-Najar’s work is multifaceted, but for now, we’ll summarize by saying that she assesses the impact of various products and supplements to determine the benefits they offer to the consumer.
We hope to educate our readers regarding changing trends in nutrition and self-care, while also inspiring you to pursue a career that will help make the world a better place.
Self-care and Lang Pharma Nutrition
Ideas about, and approaches to, self-care and preventative care have been changing rapidly, especially here in the US.
Arguably, this movement started to accelerate in the early 2000s, when organic foods became popular with the average consumer, not just with niche buying groups.
Soon afterward, the national conversation surrounding healthcare and its accessibility contributed to a major shift: rather than focusing on so-called “disease-care,” people became more interested in preventative care.
Preventative care, to put it simply, involves taking steps to achieve a healthier lifestyle in the hopes of preventing larger health issues before they occur.
As Munoz-Najar noted during our discussion,
“The trend for self-care and preventative care continues to explode. People are seeing supplements as a natural form of medicine..”
In the US, many people are specifically trying to prevent conditions like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
As you might expect, all of these conditions are greatly affected by personal diet and eating habits.
Now that more Americans are aware of the importance of good nutrition, the demand for nutritional supplements has increased.
Not everyone has the time or the money to get all their desired vitamins from their food, and this is where supplements come into play. Lang shifted their focus to meet this growing demand.
“From the early days of this emerging trend, Lang’s vision evolved to one of producing the highest quality, science-based, efficacious products and they literally remade the company to clarify and support this vision. As part of that transformation, the company wanted to create a central position to raise the bar on research standards and elevate the rigor of scientific review. I’ve been proud to fill that role.”
Munoz-Najar has been a major part of this development. In particular, she has pushed for a strict scientific approach and diligent clinical research.
Given her extensive experience in academia and scientific research, she has been able to lead Lang into a new age of scientifically-based product research that focuses on natural ingredients.
“I work with a talented team that is focused on the commercialization of successful consumer products at the largest retailers and pharmacies in the world. I’ve learned through extensive experience how to spot ingredients with real commercial potential among the hundreds of ingredients on the market.”
Rather than chasing trends, Munoz-Najar and Lang have managed to find specific ingredients to serve as the basis for products that will have a tangible benefit to buyers, both here in the US and abroad.
In such a competitive market, there’s no greater advantage than having products that do their jobs and do them well.
An evolving understanding of nutrition
So how is the US doing when it comes to a thorough understanding of nutrition and nutritional supplements?
As we mentioned above, consumers are continuing to develop this understanding, thanks in part to the increase in the number of supplements and resources currently on offer.
But on the research side of things, recent years have been especially exciting, specifically with regards to the relationship between nutrition and very serious diseases.
Munoz-Najar touched on just some of the most recent developments in this area.
“Research on the role of nutrition on complex non-communicable chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer is relatively recent. There has been a dramatic increase in supplement use over the past twenty years, with consumers demanding better and safer solutions to their health concerns. As scientists and industry leaders is our responsibility to grow and apply this knowledge to create safe and effective products with the ultimate goal of improving lives.”
Until recently, the connections between nutrition and disease like cancer have been tenuous at best and utterly unknown at worst.
The idea that we may soon understand these connections much better is both exciting and vital.
Once definitive preventative care is established, we could expect to see a dramatic decrease in new cancer cases, helping to curb one of the most prevalent, and most deadly, diseases of our time.
As Munoz-Najar stated, we’re still a long way away from this point, but it’s encouraging to see that more and more researchers are now viewing this as a viable focus.
Misconceptions surrounding supplements
Let’s switch gears to talk about common misconceptions surrounding nutrition and nutritional supplements.
It’s safe to say there are quite a few popular misconceptions out there, but Munoz-Najar drew our attention to a specific misconception that has gained quite a bit of ground in recent years.
“There continues to be a perception that natural, handcrafted products are superior. But what truly elevates supplements is well-conducted research, advanced processing and manufacturing technology, and stringent and consistent quality control. It leans more toward a pharmaceutical approach than a small, artisan, hand-crafted approach, despite that image being very appealing right now.”
This misconception is not terribly surprising given the fact that, as Munoz-Najar communicated to us, the popularity of supplements was originally part of the natural foods movement. It’s no wonder that many buyers have continued to lump the two into the same category.
There’s no denying that the “natural, hand-crafted” look is a very successful branding scheme, but with supplements, there’s no significant advantage when the supplements themselves are hand-crafted, regardless of how that term is defined.
Lack of regulation in the area of nutritional supplements has allowed many brands and manufacturers to claim health benefits without backing up those claims with scientific evidence.
Munoz-Najar and her team have been on the other side of the equation, using clinical research and consistent protocols to make sure that their products will indeed be effective.
Hopefully, the stigma buyers attach to scientific methodologies will fade as more people realize that it’s the content that counts.
The cutting edge
As research marches forward, we get closer and closer to a bright new age of nutritional understanding, and those working in the area of nutrition have a lot to look forward to.
Munoz-Najar confirmed that her single biggest source of motivation is finding the ways in which nutraceuticals can have a positive impact on people’s lives, from disease prevention to general wellbeing.
In terms of cutting-edge research, Munoz-Najar is particularly excited about adjuvant nutraceuticals.
“One very interesting concept is the one of ‘adjuvant nutraceuticals’ which can act as augmentation agents in the treatment of lifestyle conditions that are caused in part by deficits in nutrition. These lifestyle conditions include metabolic syndrome, type-2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity, depression, and many more.”
The applications of new findings in nutrition are universal. Everyone needs to eat, and everyone is at some form of risk for any number of health conditions, due to lifestyle, environmental, and hereditary factors.
If you yourself are interested in the ways that nutrition affects our daily lives, we highly encourage you to continue your research.
You may even find that you’d like to pursue a career in nutrition, whether from a scientific perspective or a business perspective. It’s safe to say that the nutrition sector will continue to offer significant opportunities for growth.
It’s important to recognize and appreciate careers that have a positive effect on other people. Maybe the next time you take a stroll down the health and lifestyle aisle of your local grocery store, you’ll feel a sense of gratitude toward all the unseen work, time, and research that went into all those supplements you see lining the shelves.