The A.C. Grace Company, located in Big Sandy, TX, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. A.C. Grace got its start under unfortunate circumstances; founder Roy Erickson suffered three heart attacks in 1962, and was told by doctors after the third just to go home and wait for the next one. As a young man in his 50s, Erickson thought this advice was unacceptable, so, let down by his doctors, he set out to discover a heart healthy aid on his own.
A Strong Will Leads to a Strong Product
Erickson came from a health-minded family, his father being a physician and surgeon and Erickson with three years of premedical school under his own belt. He understood the importance of being educated and knowledgeable, and read up on vitamin E in the book Your Key to a Healthy Heart, by Herbert Bailey. He contacted experts, among them brothers Wilfrid and Evan Shute, two of the first doctors to use vitamin E to aid in heart conditions, to help him develop what eventually became A.C. Grace’s flagship all-natural vitamin E supplement.
After development, Erickson had such faith in his product that he tested it out on himself before heading back to the doctor’s office for a check-up. His doctor was surprised to see Erickson’s heart health managed, and observe his increased stamina and energy. That’s when UNIQUE E®, A.C. Grace’s sole product for 45 years, was launched.
Forty years later in 2002 at the age of 93, Erickson died with a healthy heart. Since that time, the next generation of family has upheld the high standards Erickson set in place when he founded A.C. Grace 50 years ago. Since its start, A.C. Grace has sought to be the foremost authority and expert on all elements of vitamin E, quickly setting the standard of quality and effectiveness within the supplement industry. “We believe our products are some of the highest, if not the highest, quality vitamin E supplements on the market. Our products are the ‘natural’ form of vitamin E, not the synthetic form found in many stores today,” says Scott Smith, director of marketing and operations. “We’ve surrounded ourselves with the leaders in their fields when it comes to E complex.”
And these experts aren’t keeping their vitamin E knowledge to themselves; the company is doing everything it can to spread what it knows about vitamin E to health professionals and patients alike.
Teaching for Change
Education is just as important to A.C. Grace as having a pure product. “We believe in the purity of things,” says Smith. “Most other folks in the nutraceutical world like to mix unnatural antioxidants or other nutrients in there and we don’t…We want to get more specific on individualized care and conditions and knowing the dosage and mixture of those homologues to best benefit the user.”
The company’s products contain no additives or fillers, and are extracted from their source without including any source oil. Such pure products can only come from research and knowledge that other companies tend to put aside, says Smith. At A.C. Grace, work will not go forward on a product until in-depth research and scientific studies have been conducted, or before being passed on to a university to be tested and possibly improved upon before finally rolling it out.
Along with working beside university students and teachers, A.C. Grace partners with practitioners across a wide range of specialties to educate and put their products in the hands of those that can understand and use them properly in their practices. This is what Smith calls “doctor-tested: application-based science.” “If you look at trades, a lot of indication from the science community and the [medical] community are touting evidence-based science. We say evidence-based science is relative based upon three questions: what type of E is used, what is the condition treated, and what dosage is used. The real, key data is in the application in the field across medical disciplines,” says Smith. “The real successes have been in the front lines with the medical professionals that have taken the time to learn from their patients.”
Doctors can only perform as well as they’re taught, says Smith, so to ensure a well-informed medical community, A.C. Grace goes on lecture tours to give practitioners and new doctors the tools and resources they need to think out of the box in their own practices while informing their patients of their options. Patient understanding is just as important to A.C. Grace as educating their medical counterparts. “No matter the protocol,” says Smith, “it’s imperative to enable patients to not only choose their healthcare, but also to understand what’s happening to them. We’ve educated for 50 years, and we’re going to continue to educate.”
According to Smith, Erickson formulated UNIQUE E® with a higher gamma-tocopherol content to be similar to foods in nature. This was different than what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated in its daily dietary requirements. In 1968, the agency released the RDA requirement for vitamin E, saying that only the alpha-tocopherol portion of the eight vitamin E compounds was beneficial to the body. “More and more, recent studies have shown that a full natural mixed-tocopherols concentrate, with high-gamma, provides maximum benefit compared to alpha-tocopherol only,” says Smith. “This validates what the company has known for 50 years through doctor and customer feedback. Furthermore, recent studies have stated that the results show alpha-tocopherol alone, especially the synthetic form, may be damaging to the body.”
In keeping with the tradition of being ahead of the game, in 2008, A.C. Grace released UNIQUE E® Tocotrienols ahead of other vitamin E competitors in order to provide a wider spectrum of benefits with the eight vitamin E compounds. Then, in 2010, the company expanded into a secondary line of partner products under the brand UNIQUE C.A.R.E.® (Complementary and Alternative Resources for Vitamin E). Since then, other A.C. Grace products have been introduced, some even winning awards. UNIQUE E® Natural Moisturizer won high honors from the Best of Natural Beauty Awards and Best of Expo 2010 awards in their skin care categories.
The A.C. Grace Company has taken pride in its vitamin E products for 50 years and plans to be around for at least another 50, learning and growing along with any new developments to continue staying ahead in the industry. “We want to be known as the E specialist,” says Smith. “We want to be the best, the most knowledgeable on one nutrient that has confused most of the health care community.” WF
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, March 2012