USANA – Teaming with TOSH to Break New Ground

Leave the USANA Home Office headed east toward the towering Wasatch Mountains and any one of three routes will put you at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) in less than 20 minutes. There are 12 measly miles of road between the corporate headquarters and the medical campus—road that represents a connection deepened by, but not built upon, proximity.

Collaboration is the vocabulary word Tyler Barker, Ph.D., a physiologist and clinical researcher at TOSH, would use to describe the research relationship with his neighbors to the west. It’s a collaboration manifested in shared interest, workload, and desire to be better through a two-heads-are-better-than-one philosophy.

“USANA isn’t just supporting the research, they’re doing it,” Barker said. “It would not be possible without USANA. Sometimes I feel bad because I’m always bugging Brian.”

He’s talking about Brian Dixon, Ph.D., USANA’s director of product innovation, and one of the members of USANA’s Research and Development team Barker works with most closely. Dixon and Barker should be familiar with each other. Both logged time at the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI). They kept in touch after their time in Corvallis, Oregon, and have fostered the collaborative spirit both point to as a strength of the partnership, which officially started in 2009.

But Barker’s relationship with USANA actually goes back further. As part of a research partnership with LPI, USANA funded Barker’s dissertation.

“USANA has brought TOSH to a whole new level. TOSH is world renowned for its surgery and physical therapy, and the research, but I feel like the collaboration with USANA on research has taken that research to a whole new level.” — Tyler Barker, Ph.D., physiologist and clinical researcher at TOSH

A Recipe for the Perfect Collaboration

Although the research partnership between USANA and TOSH is fairly new, the collaborative nature of the relationship is already bearing fruit.

“USANA has brought TOSH to a whole new level,” Barker said. “TOSH is world renowned for its surgery and physical therapy, and the research, but I feel like the collaboration with USANA has taken that research to a whole new level.”

None of it would be possible without the unique expertise and resources Barker and TOSH bring to the table. And since TOSH is a world-class facility on the forefront of orthopedics, their contribution is by no means paltry. There’s the medical-campus setting with physicians, surgery, physical therapy, athletic training, and research under one roof. Then there’s the constant stream of patients that make up a large, varied population—everything from kids getting ready for their first football practice to osteoarthritis sufferers in need of a total knee replacement. Everything adds up to the perfect setting for human clinical research about nutrition and orthopedics, and the perfect partner for collaboration.

“Tyler and his team bring a specific skill set and expertise to a problem, and our team at USANA brings another skill set. It works well,” Dixon said. “You have a physiologist working with a molecular biologist, and Tyler can do things that we can’t do. We can do things that they can’t do. Those are the perfect collaborations.”

Like with anything, the research collaborations between USANA and TOSH start with a good idea. Conversations between Barker and USANA’s team produce ideas that could work for both parties. USANA and TOSH then work to turn those ideas into mutually beneficial research. That means designing a study, manufacturing the supplements, working on blinding and randomization—important steps to assure scientifically valid results—recruiting subjects, and collecting and analyzing the data. So the collaboration runs from conception to publication or presentation of the findings.

“I feel like it’s more on an academic level, as opposed to something marketing-driven,” Barker said of the relationship between the two groups.

Teamwork in Action

The relationship between USANA and TOSH materializes in the four human clinical studies currently underway—all of which explore the convergence of orthopedics and nutrition.

The first study examines whether low vitamin D status impairs recovery from muscle damage, and whether supplementing increases vitamin D levels and improves recovery. Data is only collected in the four winter months, but TOSH has finished subject recruitment and enrollment. Barker is ready to start data analysis, and he’s excited about what he’s seen so far. There have already been presentations at international scientific conferences, and the first manuscript from the study is in print now.

Barker was also able to leverage USANA’s resources to secure $40,000 in additional grant money for the study, getting even more research out of the company’s investment.

Knees are the focus of two other USANA-TOSH collaborations. One study builds on Barker’s dissertation, investigating the role vitamins E and C play in strength recovery following ACL injury and surgery, and whether multivitamin/multi-mineral supplements have an influence on strength recovery, as well. The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. The study is approaching 50-percent subject recruitment, and Barker expects to do an interim analysis soon.

The other knee study explores whether multivitamin/multi-mineral supplements influence strength recovery, inflammation, and wound healing following a total knee replacement—a procedure that is increasing in frequency, especially in women. Barker said they are halfway to their goal of 30 subjects.

Data collection is continuing on both knee studies, but is just underway in the final USANA-TOSH collaboration—a vitamin D-osteoarthritis study. There are already 20 subjects, and five have finished their 12 weeks of supplementation—either a custom pack of vitamin D, fish oil, and joint-health supplements, or placebos. It’s a big study that involves several end points and outcome measures. But it’s important because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, osteoarthritis affects an estimated 26.9 million adults in the United States, and is currently the leading cause of disability. This study is so important USANA has committed $250,000, plus the cost of supplements and other sample analysis.

There are other things Barker has going on as well, like a case study exploring vitamin D status in the first subject to enroll in the total knee study. “We’re funding four studies and we expect four conclusions to come out of it,” Dixon said. “But Tyler goes above and beyond. He is consistently reanalyzing the samples he and his team have already collected as new research comes out to verify findings or even make new ones. So we get a lot of bang for our buck.”

And the fact that these studies are happening in humans, in a medical setting, makes the research even more valuable.

“Subjects are coming here to get better—they have a bum knee or a bum hip or something—we want to make their lives better,” Barker said. “But at the same time, let’s do a little research to find out what’s going on and see if we can improve that.”

A Bright, Busy Future

When USANA evaluates which research to support, the phrase “cutting edge” is always part of the conversation. Working with researchers pushing the frontier of science is paramount, and the research with TOSH definitely fits USANA’s cutting-edge mantra. Crossover between orthopedics and nutritional science has been infrequent, but it’s quickly becoming an emerging area of interest—one where TOSH and USANA are already making advances.

“You can probably count all the studies that have examined vitamin D and inflammation in orthopedics on one hand,” Barker said.

Most of the research in orthopedics involves surgery, physical therapy, and biomechanics. There have been a few studies with vitamin C, iron, and folate, but most have been observational, not experimental, in nature. USANA and TOSH are trying to do both and, in the process, produce truly groundbreaking work.

And by no means is that work done. In fact, Barker and Dixon think the future looks bright. USANA funding has already allowed Barker to hire two research assistants to help shoulder the burden of running numerous clinical studies at the same time. Barker usually has about five studies on the backburner, too, and there are indications that some of those might be of interest to USANA.

“We’ve talked about a couple of possible studies, and there’s some additional funding that’s going to be coming TOSH’s way,” Dixon said. “Who knows where nutritional science and patient care is going to go in the future? But we’ll obviously be on that cutting edge.”

Barker would like to get to a point where USANA and TOSH are doing larger phase two and three clinical studies. The specifics aren’t clear, but what is—judging by the glowing way he talks about the collaboration he’s had with USANA—is Barker’s excitement about what the future holds for the partnership.

“USANA has quality supplements and quality people,” Barker said. “And then, with all the subjects and patients that walk through the doors here, basically, what we can do is endless. There are always questions and hypotheses.”

Next week, don’t miss the final Scientific Method story, which looks at research going on inside the USANA Home Office.

USANA Health Sciences Business Review

Usana Health Sciences, Inc. (“Usana“) is a multi-level marketing company based out of Utah. The company produces various products in the nutritional, supplements, skincare and vitamins business industries, some of which have been provided to several athletic organizations that the company sponsors. Most of the company’s products are manufactured at their facility in West Valley City, Utah and are sold in markets around the world through their network of independent distributors that the company calls their “associates.” The company, which was founded by immunologist and microbiologist Myron Wentz, is the 24th largest direct-sale company on the planet.

The company distributes and sells its products in much the same way as other multi-level marketing companies. Distributors recruit and profit from other distributors’ sales. The products are only available through the direct-sale channel and are not available in a retail environment. The company has approximately 222,000 associates in its global network, which includes countries such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, The Philippines, Mainland China and Singapore. The company earned a place on Forbes’ “200 Best Small Companies” list from 2004 to 2006.

USANA‘s Products

The line of Usana products is comprised of three product categories: Usana Nutritionals (including products like Essentials, Optimizers, and various nutritional supplements), Usana Diet & Energy (including protein bars, RESET meal replacement shakes and Rev3 energy drinks) and Sense personal care (skin care products, hair and body care products and skin treatment products) which contain a combination of botanicals, antioxidants and other ingredients. The company does not use parabens in its products.

Several of Usana‘s products have been certified by NSF International in the Dietary Supplements category. This designation means that the products have the identity and quantity of their dietary ingredients depicted accurately on the label and that the products do not contain any ingredients that are not identified on the label. In addition, several Usana products are also certified under NSF’s “Certified for Sport” certification program, meaning that they contain no prohibited substances.

Usana’s Business model

USANA is a multilevel marketing company. That means it sells its products via sales associates and over the Internet. It is important to note that in this business model, the associates are not employees of the company; they are independent distributors. These associates receive commission based on the products they directly sell as well as earning commission on the products sold by the distributors they recruit, known as their “downlines”.

Usana uses what is known as a binary infinite compensation plan. Under this type of plan, sales associates are awarded points for each sale they make. Associates are required to reach a certain level of points before they will start to earn income. USANA requires each associate to purchase a minimum of 100 volume of products (equal to about $120) every four weeks in order to stay eligible to receive compensation. Failure to maintain this level of product will cause the distributor to lose any points he had accumulated that had not yet been paid on.

USANA‘s sales associates are bound by distributor agreements. These agreements preclude distributors from making any misleading income claims to potential associates and from making health claims for their products.

USANA Company Claims

These are the claims that have earned USANA the honor of being voted Distributor Choice’s “Best Company” in Network Marketing Today and in The MLM Insider Magazine for a whopping 10 years!

Low Start Up

The Company claims to have low start-up costs. Associates are only required to purchase USANA‘s Business Development System, which can be purchased for as little as $30 US.

Simple Compensation Structure

No previous sales experience is required to join the USANA team. The only requirements are a willingness to learn and a desire to help others improve their lives. The company recommends that each associate has two downline associates to start building their profitable business.

Earning Potential

The Company focuses on the earning potential of its associates, comparing the earning potential of their MLM business model to the earning potential of a traditional salaried-plus-commission job. The company prides itself on its award-winning compensation plan, which offers associates six different ways to earn income. Under the USANA structure, unpaid volume carries over week to week and there are no sales quotas. The company views these as a way to make it possible for their associates to succeed.

Potential for schedule flexibility

Under the USANA business model, each associate is essentially the master of his own business. Associates set their own hours, can work from everywhere, and can set their own pace. In this model, the most motivated workers will earn the most income, but with the flexibility the model allows, the company’s hope is that all of the associates will be able to work the model to set themselves up for maximum success. People who can work independently with no supervision and no set schedule can flourish in this system.

Independence, not isolation

USANA wants its associates to know that they are in business for themselves, but not by themselves. To help associates achieve, the company provides its associates with thorough training and offers them access to a wide variety of helpful tools designed to promote success. Those tools include such things as a fully integrated Associate-only website, a website on which associates can stay up to date with the latest company news, receiving additional training, download free tools and take advantage of business management services offered by the company. Other tools offered to USANA associates are frequent web conferences, company events, sales aids, helpful publications and professional multimedia productions and many other things. The company also offers a helpful and experienced customer service team. That team can offer support to the company’s associate network in six languages.


The company’s Autoship program means that the associate will never have to actual handle (or store) inventory. Inventory will be shipped directly to the associate or the customer on a schedule determined by the associate in conjunction with his customer.

Part of a growing industry

Companies involved in manufacturing and promoting wellness products are part of one of the fastest-growing segments of the market. When it comes to direct selling, wellness-related products enjoy an even bigger piece of the pie. According to well-known economist Paul Zane Pilzer, wellness products and services are predicted to be the next trillion-dollar industry in the American economy. The global population is aging, and they are increasingly looking for products that will help them to look and feel their best. In addition, younger generations are seeking products that will help them to stay looking and feeling youthful as long as possible. Our lives are busier than ever, and more and more people are seeking products to help keep them in optimal health so that they can keep pace with the speed of modern life.

Finally, USANA hangs its hat on the worldwide reputation it has earned. The company is a member of the Direct Selling Association and is a solid, publicly traded company whose products appeal to a wide segment of the population. USANA customers are from a variety of age ranges, both genders and from all education levels. They reside around the world and include world-class athletes, best-selling authors, top-tier scientific institutions, leaders in the health and wellness industries and well-respected members of the business community.

USANA offers its associates the opportunity to take their financial futures into their own hands. They offer a thorough support network, flexibility in terms of schedule and earning potential and a lineup of products they truly believe in, products designed to meet the needs of a large segment of the global population. USANA has received, and continues to receive, many accolades from the business community for its business model, its products and for its widespread success.

More on USANA:

USANA Heart Health Supplements

USANA Digestive Enzymes

USANA Vitamins Procosa

USANA Energy Drink

USANA Products Q&A

Healthy Life with USANA

USANA Vitamins for Teens

USANA Vitamins for Kids

USANA Cappuccino Nutrimeal

Is it safe to use USANA’s Vitamin D Product and USANA Essentials or USANA HealthPak?

USANA Proflavanol C 100

USANA Booster C

Do USANA contain artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavorings?

How does USANA ensure product safety

What make USANA Probiotic different from other probiotic supplements?


USANA Diet Products

USANA BiOmega Fish Oil

USANA Pure Rest – Sleeping Better

USANA Skin Care Products

USANA HealthPak


Prenatal Vitamins USANA MultiVitamin

USANA Reset Weight Loss

USANA Essentials

USANA Fibergy

USANA Specials

USANA Chocolate Nutrimeal

USANA Nutrition Bars

USANA Fibergy Plus

USANA Vitamin D