Oslo, Norway—Studies have shown that the intake of recommended doses of folic acid (a naturally occurring B-vitamin) from the period before conception to early pregnancy can prevent neural tube birth defects. Now, Christine Roth, M.Sc., Clin.Psy.D., from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo has led a study (published October 12, 2011 by JAMA) that investigated whether maternal use of folic acid supplements was associated with a reduced risk of severe language delay in children at age three years.

In this month's issue, you’ll find WholeFoods’ 34th Annual Retailer Survey. There’s lots of good news to report. Smaller stores, those under 2,600 square feet, which have struggled the last few years, showed signs of strength, reporting higher sales, profits and larger basket sizes. Overall, two main trends emerged from the survey.

Two recently published studies that pointed to adverse results with the consumption of dietary supplements have raised questions and concern among industry leaders. While one study indicates an association between dietary supplement intake and increased mortality risk, the other suggests that supplementation with vitamin E significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men. Many experts believe otherwise. Here are some insights that bring the shortcomings of these studies into the limelight.

Santa Cruz, CA—Supplement maker Rainbow Light marked its 30th anniversary this year, and kicked off the celebrations in March with a festive Expo West booth and later a private party for its employees in Santa Cruz. Founder and president Linda Kahler recalls this festive event and says, “It’s pretty important to step back and take a moment to look at our achievements.”

Promotions, new hires, retirements and more.

A new industry standard currently under development by the Natural Products Association (NPA) is set to help fill what many see as a troublesome gap in the market. Sometime next year, the trade association plans to roll out a definition and certification program for some “natural” food products.

New York, NY—The NSF/ANSI 305 standard for personal care products has a new adherent in Avalon Organics, a brand of Hain Celestial Group, whose entire line of skin, hair and bath care offerings now contains at least 70% organic ingredients.

Washington, D.C.—Activities for the second annual Non-GMO month, a multi-faceted advocacy campaign directed against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food, went off without a hitch this October, and drew more attention to the growing movement.

A 23-person clinical trial conducted at Laval University in Quebec, Canada, has confirmed that brown seaweed (InSea2, innoVactiv, Inc., based in Quebec, Canada) positively affects glucose and insulin levels after eating.