From Personal Experience Springs Professional Path

by Hattie Brown (
September 2, 2004 • Roanoke Times

About Charlie Rea

Charlie Rea couldn’t stay awake even when his academic career depended on it.

He slept for hours but never felt rested, he said. Everyday actions such as using the remote control to change the television station became too strenuous for him. Attending classes was nearly impossible.

Rea’s condition got so bad at times in high school and college that he turned to a regimen of “aggressive” dietary supplements and a Cherokee medicine man to treat what doctors said was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. But the medicine man’s advice and the supplements he took each day helped him, he said. And in some ways, they also changed his career path.

The Business

Now 32, Rea is the owner of four Nature’s Outlet stores, located in Salem, Southwest Roanoke County, Northwest Roanoke and Martinsville. He is still in the process of buying the business from his parents, but they have relinquished all control of the stores to him. Rea, of South Roanoke, said he strives to help others find ways to make themselves feel better. He stresses that he isn’t a doctor and has no medical training. Instead he considers himself to be a nutrition consultant or counselor.

He’s developed his knowledge through firsthand use of many health products and through research he’s done about which nutrients the body needs.

“I feel fortunate,” Rea said. “I have a business where customers can come back and be excited and tell how a product has had a positive impact on their lives.”

Rea’s goal is to make Nature’s Outlet “the Nordstrom of nutrition.” It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Rea ended up owning the Nature’s Outlet stores. Though he didn’t use dietary supplements and health food regularly until he was in high school, Rea grew up around the products.

The History

In the mid-1970s, Charlie Rea’s grandmother, who lived in Florida, discovered that dietary supplements and other nonprescription products eased her arthritis. Her doctors dismissed the results, but she was so pleased that she opened a store selling health products. Dennis Rea, Charlie Rea’s father, wasn’t convinced that the products worked. But after Dennis Rea talked to some of his mother’s customers during a visit, he became a believer and quit his job in sales a few years later.

He and his wife, Cheryl Rea, opened Roanoke Valley Health Foods – later renamed Nature’s Outlet – on Brambleton Avenue. Within a decade the Reas had opened Nature’s Outlet stores in other parts of the Roanoke Valley and moved the original store to its current location in Promenade Park shopping center in Southwest Roanoke County.

While growing up, Charlie Rea helped out at the Nature’s Outlet stores. But at the time he had no intention of making it his career. Rea, who studied finance and management at the University of Virginia, returned to the Roanoke Valley after graduation and worked in several sales and management positions at Nature’s Outlet stores. He moved back to Charlottesville and from 1998 to 2000 worked as a sales representative for Nature’s Way, a company that specializes in natural products.

In 2000, he started the ownership process for the Nature’s Outlet stores because his parents wanted to retire. “I just started doing it and never looked back,” Rea said.

The shelves in the Nature’s Outlet on Electric Road are packed with healthful snacks, natural hygiene products for body and face, organic foods and thousands of dietary supplements filled with a variety of herbs, minerals and vitamins.

Quality First

Rea considers himself a “gatekeeper” for which items are offered in his stores. The manufacturing of many dietary supplements is not highly regulated, Rea said, so he tries to make sure a product’s quality is as good as a company’s claims. That job has gotten increasingly hard over the years, Rae said.

When his father started the store, there were only about 3,000 supplements on the market, he said. Now there are hundreds of thousands. One of the major problems Rae finds is that companies embellish the healthfulness of their products, he said. Many popular supplements, for example, don’t contain enough of a particular vitamin to make an impact on a person’s system, despite what the labels say.

Rea and his employees try to visit manufacturing plants to learn more about a product. When companies refuse to let him visit, that usually signals a red flag, Rea said. In addition to visiting plants, he attends seminars and trade shows and invites companies to come to the stores to talk to him and employees about their products.

“They’re just up-to-date on everything,” said customer Pam Draper, a 46-year-old Southwest Roanoke County resident. “It’s fun to go in there.”

Rea frequently hears from customers that many of the supplements are too expensive.

“He compares buying supplements to buying produce; if you buy the first thing you see because it’s cheapest then you may be sacrificing quality.”

Samantha Fortune, manager of the Nature’s Outlet on Williamson Road, said she’s found that buying the more expensive, whole food, multivitamins and other high quality supplements are a better value than chemical-based supplements that cost a few dollars.

Fortune, 28, has had Hodgkin’s Disease, thyroid problems and sports-related injuries, yet she’s felt great for the past few years. She attributes it to a supplement routine that consists of about 15 products. Fortune considers it a preventive measure. “I look at it as an investment in my health and in my future,” said Fortune, of Salem. “It’s a very proactive way to approach health.”


REVEAL Your Spring Skin with a Free Consultation!


Stop by our Promenade Park location on Friday, February 9th, 2018 from 9:30am-3pm  and receive a FREE 15 minute consultation with MyChelle Dermaceuticals Skincare expert, Larissa!

Larissa will be utilizing Reveal technology to spot signs of sun damage and recommend products specific to your skin- in store!

This is a great opportunity to really find out specifically what YOUR skin needs…and how to take care of it for the rest of your life!

For this event, we are offering a 25% OFF ANY MyChelle product in our stores  for three days starting Thursday, February 8th through Sunday, February 11th!!!  The coupon is available at time of purchase!

Why should Vitamin C be a staple in your beauty routine?

“Dermatologist-recommended, tried-and-true Vitamin C deserves a permanent spot in your daily skin care lineup. Thousands of independent clinical studies show that L-Ascorbic Acid, naturally found in the skin, is the best skin care ingredient for promoting skin health. As the only active form of Vitamin C, L-Ascorbic Acid enhances skin’s natural renewal process, protects skin against pollution and environmental damage, reduces the appearance of dark spots, and helps to improve the look of acne scarring”.

Retinal, Retinol… who has the best Vitamin A of them all? 

Of all non-prescription forms of Vitamin A, Retinal, a natural form of Vitamin A, has been shown in large, randomized, controlled trials to have the most beneficial effect on the skin. Retinal is just one conversion cycle away from Retinoic Acid, the prescription-only form of Vitamin A that readily penetrates the skin. Because Retinal has less of a conversion process comparted to other forms of Vitamin A—such as retinol or other retinoids—Retinal has minimal skin irritation, making it ideal for all skin types”.

Upcoming Event! Getting Your Gut Ready for the New Year featuring Bruce Topping!


We are excited to announce that on December 12, 2017, we will be hosting Garden of Life’s National Educator Bruce Topping here in Roanoke!

From GOL’s webpage:
Bruce Topping has been involved in the alternative medical community his entire life by managing health food stores, speaking for support groups, conducting seminars for Weston A. Price chapters and being an activist for small and local agriculture. He is a consummate student of natural medicine in all its forms with a passion for helping people understand the controversies of diet and nutritional science. Based on his wealth of knowledge, Bruce is a highly sought after national speaker for Garden of Life and is our probiotics and enzymes expert. He is currently authoring a book on digestive health and is a popular guest on several radio shows.

Bruce will be offering our customers a lot of information about the importance of setting up a good foundation for better health by focusing on three areas: getting essential vitamins and minerals into the body, restoring gut health with probiotics and supplementing with protein for optimum health.

The location will be at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke on December 12, 2017 from 6:30-8pm. Call our Promenade location to reserve your seat at 540-989-5109.

And, as a bonus for attending, we have a valuable coupon that we will be handing out at the seminar!

One Garden of Life product = 25% OFF

Two Garden of Life products = 30% OFF

Three Garden of Life Products = 35% OFF


Free Wellness Seminar in Martinsville on November 14, 2017!

Free Wellness Seminar in Martinsville on November 14, 2017!

Leslie Larsen, an incredibly dynamic speaker, will be back Tuesday, Nov 14th from 6:30pm to 8pm at the New College Institute to cover diabetes, neuropathy, fibromyalgia and more!

We hope to see everyone there !

Mark your calendars & call us to reserve your seat. (276) 632-4697 or email us at



Menopause and Bone Strength, Plant-Sourced Whole-food Calcium, Not Limestone!


Q:      I’ve just entered into menopause, what should I consider to maintain healthy bone strength and density?

A:      Women must take steps to maintain bone health due to various circumstances including menopause which causes a marked decrease in bone growth. Frighteningly, often times in the case of a fall and broken hip, the bone is so weak that it actually breaks first, causing the fall.

These injuries are debilitating and difficult to recover from, especially for the elderly. Calcium is a major part of the solution, but on its own, it can be ineffective, and in the wrong form, even dangerous.

I like a product from New Chapter called Bone Strength Take Care because it provides safe and natural plant-based calcium along with synergistic vitamins and minerals. Bone Strength’s calcium is derived from algae, an aquatic plant, rather than the limestone or chalk that make up most calcium supplements.

University studies on the ingredients in Bone Strength show meaningful bone density support with continued use.  Our customers love this product and enthusiastically endorse it.

Robert Rea, Nutritional Consultant

Free Wellness Seminar in Roanoke and Martinsville!


We want to invite you to an information-packed seminar next week where you will learn about the NEXT breakthrough botanical from Europe that is the most powerful antioxidant known in nature, along with how it can benefit your cardiovascular health as well as support and help regulate your blood sugar!

Don’t miss this fantastic seminar!

Our featured speaker, Leslie Larsen, will also be sharing with you the latest information regarding the following:

  • Effective PAIN relief without the side effects of drugs.
  • Simple strategies to help you overcome stress and fatigue
  • Discover the nutrient that most people are lacking that can help you detoxify and boost your metabolism
  • What is important for supporting a healthy thyroid gland
  • Find out which natural remedies outperform pharmaceuticals

Receive free books and literature along with valuable store coupons to use on your next purchase at Nature’s Outlet just for attending!

The staff at Nature’s Outlet had the opportunity to attend a private Wellness Seminar from Leslie a few weeks ago. We were so blown away by the information she shared with us regarding how to support our bodies for healing and health that we scheduled her to speak to you, our valued customers.

We realized the value of hearing Leslie share first hand with you what she knows about the Europharma line of products and the research behind them.

Join Us and Learn How to Continue to Support Your Healthy Lifestyle!

“Natural Remedies That Outperform Pharmaceuticals”

Monday, May 15, 2017  6:30 – 8:00 PM     

New College Institute

191 Fayette Street

Martinsville, VA 24112

RSVP: 276-632-4697

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Holiday Inn – Tanglewood

4468 Starkey Road

Roanoke, VA 24018

RSVP: 540-989-5109

Seminar Flyer

March 2017 Product Demonstration Schedule

Upcoming Product Demonstrations

PlantFusion LEAN is a vegan, energy boosting, hunger curbing, blood sugar balancing meal replacement powder that tastes great mixed with just almond milk! Come see how it tastes with a full serving offered!

March 18:

Promenade Park: 1-4pm

Valley View: 2-5pm


Garden of Life’s new SPORT line, offering organic plant-based protein bars and shakes, as well as grass-fed whey protein shakes, will be available to sample!

March 3:  Promenade Park: 1-4pm

March 17:  Valley View: 2-5pm


Ancient Nutrition’s Bone Broth Protein

With no more than 100 calories per serving, this form of protein is very easily digested, helps promote gut health and healthy bones, joints, hair, skin, and nails, all while being very cleansing and immune boosting. Available to sample!

March 4 and 11:

Martinsville : 12-3pm

Salem: 10:30-1:30pm

Promenade Park: 1-4pm

Valley View: 2-5pm

March 15:

Promenade Park: 1-4pm

Valley View:  2-5pm


Which Fish Oil to Use and Why

Which Fish Oil to Use and Why

fish oil

How Do I know Which Fish Oil to Buy?

What to look for:

  • Third Party tested for purity and potency: A lot of companies make claims about their products. Having someone else say it lends credibility to those assertions.
  • Sustainable and Ecofriendly: The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is the gold standard and global leader for certifying sustainable fishing practices.
  • Therapeutic dose: Enough Omega 3’s to make a difference. Look at the amount of EPA and DHA, not the amount of Fish Oil.

Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil is the best choice, as it follows all of these guidelines. You can’t find a better Omega 3 supplement than this.
See below for a breakdown of all of their different Omega 3 products to help pick the best one for you.

And don’t forget, these are all 20% off in-store through the month of September! You can’t find a better time to add such a high quality, sustainable fish oil into your vitamin routine.

wileys finest fish oil

Orange Burst

  • Natural Orange flavored liquid fish oil for those who don’t want to swallow pills
  • 660 mg Omega 3’s- 440 mg EPA 220 mg DHA
  • Best source of the fatty acid Omega 7 — 220 mg in 1 teaspoon which soothes dry eyes and skin and improves digestion
  • Naturally occurring Astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant beneficial for vision

Peak Omega-3 Liquid

  • Natural Lemon flavored liquid fish oil
  • 90% triglyceride form for enhanced absorption (similar absorption to Krill oil)
  • Super concentrated Omega 3’s- 1300 mg EPA and 850 mg DHA in 1 teaspoon

Peak EPA

  • High EPA for great anti-inflammatory support
  • One a day softgel providing a potent 1000 mg dose of Omega 3’s
    750 mg EPA / 250 mg DHA

Cholesterol Support

  • High EPA to help prevent and eliminate cardiovascular and circulatory inflammation
  • Beta Sitosterol to bind to cholesterol and prevent absorption into the bloodstream

Easy Swallow Minis

  • For those on a budget or who can’t swallow larger pills
  • Two-a-day providing an excellent 630 mg dose of Omega 3’s

Prenatal DHA

  • Supports fetal and infant brain, eye, and nerve development
  • 600 mg DHA supplementation increases DHA levels of breast milk in nursing mothers

Beginner’s DHA for Kids

  • Tasty natural strawberry and watermelon flavored liquid fish oil with syringe application to make it fun and easy for children to take
  • 650 mg Omega 3’s including 250 mg DHA for brain and eye development
  • MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 and Vitamin D3 support bone development in growing kids

Elementary EPA for Kids

  • Tasty natural mango and peach flavored liquid fish oil
  • 1500 mg of Omega 3’s including 1000 mg EPA and 500 mg DHA increase focus and support natural bodily defenses
  • Patented FloraGLO Lutein and Zeaxanthin provide strong antioxidant support for the eyes
John’s Guide to Different Types of Protein

John’s Guide to Different Types of Protein

Good quality protein is essential to our health. Our body, including organs, muscles, and other tissues are made out of protein, and adequate dietary protein is necessary for proper maintenance and healing. It’s sometimes difficult to get enough protein in our diet, especially good quality protein, and we really need to replace some of the calories from the overly carb heavy typical American diet with calories from quality fats and proteins. Powdered protein supplements and shakes can be extremely useful for reaching dietary goals but there are so many types and options to choose from. Hopefully this will help clear it up a little.

Protein is made up of amino acids, and the bioavailability of a protein supplement is dependent on the type and amounts of amino acids it contains. The body has the ability to convert and make many of the amino acids it needs, but the nine essential amino acids cannot be manufactured by the body and must protein powderbe supplied by the food we eat. Most animal proteins, by definition, contain all of the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts. The protein of cereals, most beans, and vegetables sometimes contain all of these essential amino acids, but the amounts in these plant foods is often less than ideal, particularly the branch chain amino acids or BCAAs.

A common misconception with protein is that animal based protein, such as egg or whey, is easier to digest and absorb, but certain sprouted nut and seed based proteins can make them competitive, in this regard. In addition, plant proteins, as long as they are organic, pesticide-free and non-GMO, are often thought to be cleaner protein sources. However, free-range and antibiotic-free animal based proteins provide similar qualities.

Let’s take a look at some common types of proteins and their pros and cons:

Bone broth protein is really popular right now, and for good reason. It’s chock full of joint and gut healing compounds such as collagen, gelatin, glucosamine, chondroitin, glutamine, and hyaluronic acid. Whether it’s beef or chicken based, you’ll want it to be responsibly sourced from free-range animals that aren’t protein powdertreated with antibiotics or hormones. Expect many companies to cut corners, so not all bone broth proteins are going to live up to these standards, and obviously this is not a vegan friendly option. 

Pea protein is among the most hypoallergenic of all protein powders, as it contains no gluten or dairy. It’s also gentle on the digestive system and doesn’t cause bloating, a common side effect of many other protein powders. Another great feature of pea protein is its ability to lower levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which the stomach secretes when it’s empty to tell your brain that you’re hungry. Pea protein produces numerous peptides that delay the emptying of your stomach and the secretion of ghrelin.

Rice protein is an affordable vegan option but tends to have a gritty texture, doesn’t mix as well as other protein powders, and usually requires a blender for a smooth consistency.

Soy protein is not an effective alternative. Nearly all soy in the U.S. is genetically engineered and high in allergens (28 different proteins present in soy have been found to bind to IgE antibodies). plant proteinsWhat’s more troubling is the more soy protein you eat, the more likely you are to develop allergies to it, and the more severe those allergies are likely to become. Soy also blocks the absorption of important minerals such as calcium, unless the phytates have been removed. Soy contains high levels of phytoestrogens, which although beneficial in moderate amounts, can be counter-productive in large amounts — particularly for children. Unless soy has been fermented, which negates many of these issues, it’s best to avoid it.

Whey protein has great bioavailability and is fairly affordable but being dairy based, it is unsuitable for those with milk allergies. Keep in mind quality varies drastically with whey protein, so it’s a good idea to carefully inspect the product label.

John A. Rigdon
Nature’s Outlet Educator