We are asked everyday about the quality of supplements. With so many supplements out there, it can be a daunting task to determine the quality of any particular brand or product. However, quality is extremely important for a number of reasons.
First, you should know what you are putting into your body. Unfortunately, this isn’t always stated on the label. Second, product effectiveness and safety is determined solely upon what is actually in the bottle. Third, you are paying good money for these products, so you want to be sure you are getting what you pay for. And fourth, only good quality and manufacturing will produce consistent results over time.
Is It Really in the Bottle?
Everywhere you look there is exciting new literature on nutritional supplements. Unfortunately the average consumer does not realize that evidence comes out monthly showing that nutritional products do not always meet label claims (i.e., the product doesn’t contain what it says on the label); in fact, many recent studies show that most of the nutritional products tested do not completely meet label claims. Important differences in raw materials, manufacturing, scientific evaluation and price can mean the difference between getting better and getting taken.
Few products meet label claims
For instance, in a recently published study done at the Pharmacy School at the University of Maryland, 32 bottles of chondroitin sulfate (used for arthritis and joint conditions) were purchased at pharmacies and health food stores. Only 2 of the products met label claims while 14 of the 32 bottles purchased contained 10% or less of the label claim. What are your chances of getting a good product when only 2 of 32 products met their label claim?! (1)
Another published study evaluated 51 antioxidant products purchased through mail order catalogs and health food stores. Less than 30% of all antioxidant enzyme label claims were met. What is even more shocking is that 7 of the 51 products showed no antioxidant enzyme activity at all. (2)
Another recently published study tested 59 Echinacea products to see if they met label claims. The testing found that <10% of all products tested contained no measurable amount of Echinacea. Once more, of the 21 products that were labeled as being standardized, only 43% met the quality standard designated on the label. (3)
These studies show that instances of poor quality are not the exception, they are the norm. If you are going to take something to improve your health, you need to be sure you know what you are taking and not just throwing your money away.
A recent client visit illustrates the typical misconceptions that can come from poor quality products. A new client came in complaining of pain from arthritis in his knees; after an examination, we recommended a glucosamine sulfate/chondroitin sulfate product along with dietary recommendations and specific exercises. The client stated matter of factly, “I’ve tried glucosamine and chondroitin and they didn’t work”. I presented him with the above studies that showed him that he was probably NOT really taking them, although he had several empty bottles from a health food store to back up his claim. He reluctantly started on our product and within 4 weeks, his pain was subsiding; within 8 weeks it was gone.
The most expensive product is the one that doesn’t work.
If it doesn’t work, you’re just throwing your money away.
What else is in the bottle?
There is another huge issue in the supplement industry that has to do with supplement quality. That issue is contamination. The news has been full of reports of contaminated herbal products from overseas. Unfortunately, contamination also happens right here in the U.S.
A recent lawsuit filed in California against some of the largest fish oil manufacturers in the states highlights this growing issue. This lawsuit was brought against many large retail brands such as NOW Foods, Twin Labs, Solgar, GNC, Omega Protein, CVS Pharmacy and Rite Aid. (4) It is based on a study that found PCBs, which are industrial chemicals that are highly toxic, in fish oil products from each of these manufacturers. Some of the supplements tested exceeded California’s daily limit for PCBs by a factor of 10 in terms of cancer risk. The worst part is, you as the consumer have no way of determining if a product is contaminated by looking at the label.
Insuring the Highest Quality
There is only one sure way of buying the highest quality nutritional and herbal supplements: do the research and find a manufacturer that provides a comprehensive scientific evaluation of every raw material it uses, operates GMP-certified manufacturing facilities, performs human clinical evaluations to document predicted safety and efficacy and has a scientific staff and facilities to achieve true quality.
Raw Materials – The Starting Point
Ingredient selection makes the biggest difference in quality of the final product. Without quality ingredients, event he best scientific formula won’t live up to its health-promoting benefits. There are significant quality differences in individual ingredients, and bargain nutritional supplements are often made with low-cost and low-quality ingredients.
Safety and/or effectiveness may be at risk with cheaper ingredients. Low cost suppliers often don’t spend the time or money to conduct adequate literature reviews for safety, or devote qualified professionals to review this literature. Cutting corners on safety can have long-reaching effects on your health – and that’s a cost no one can afford.
How do you verify the quality of ingredients? An advanced scientific staff and sophisticated research facilities are required to identify the quality difference, which requires a hi-tech laboratory for comprehensive scientific evaluation. All the products we carry have devoted the resources to facilitate such testing.
Good manufacturing practices (GMP) certification of a manufacturing plant is an excellent marker of quality. GMP certification is not free – in fact, it’s very expensive to implement, which is why most nutritional supplement manufacturers are not officially GMP-certified. GMP-certification insures the highest quality manufacturing to bring you the highest quality products. Click here to see a listing of GMP-certified manufacturers.
Human Clinical Evaluations
The ultimate test of quality is safety and effectiveness, which can be assessed in human clinical studies. Since these products can be tested for effectiveness before they reach your hands, you can be sure of the highest quality and efficacy.
We’ve Done the Research for You
To conduct all this research would be nearly impossible for an average consumer to do. That is why we have done this research for you and only carry products that meet these impeccably high standards. In this way, we provide products that are the most consistently effective supplements on the market. Visit Natural Solutions for a Healthy You and be assured that the supplements you purchase are only of the highest quality!
- Adebowale A, Cox C, Liang Z, Eddington N. Analysis of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate Content in Marketed Products and the Caco-2 Permeability of Chondroitin Sulfate Raw Materials, JANA Spring 2000 Vol. 3, No. 1, 37-44.
- Bucci L, Klenda B, Styles J, Sparks W. Truth in Labeling for Antioxidant Enzyme Products, Survey of Label Claims and Product Potencies, Board of Nutrition, ,Palmer College of Chiropractic 1989, Davenport IA.
- Gilroy CM, Stiner JF, Byers T, Shapiro H, Georgian H. Echinacea and Truth in Labeling. Arch Intern Med 2003; 163(6): 699-704.