How to Choose a Reliable Nutritional Supplement Supplier
It is estimated that 65% of adults take some form of nutritional supplement. The consumer assumes that the supplements they are taking are safe and effective and contain what the label states. However recent random sampling by certain consumer groups have found that in many cases the supplements didn’t contain the full amount or dangerously elevated amounts of certain ingredients. Worse yet some samples were contaminated with such things as lead and prescription drugs.
Recent legislation gives the FDA some control over regulation of nutritional supplement providers. The industry itself has undertaken to self-regulate itself through defining certain guidelines and procedures for manufacturing and packaging of their products along with random sampling of providers’ products.
However the FDA is already stretched to the limit with food and drug inspections and we know their track record allowing contaminated food products into the system as well as dangerous prescription drugs.
Therefore the consumer must undertake it upon himself to choose a reliable nutritional supplier. The following things are what to look for:
Choose companies that have been established for a long period of time, for example established since 1970. Avoid fly-by-night companies.
Avoid supplements from discount stores and the big box companies like Wal-Mart.
Choose companies that provide detailed label information on its contents: suggested use like “take one soft gel per day with water”; full product name; amount per serving like 100 mg, % daily value if applicable; all ingredients such as fillers, binders, colors, flavors; lot number; company contact information; expiration date. In other words the more information the better. Avoid companies with minimum amount of information on label.
Choose companies that make only structure/function claims on its label or web site. The supplement is illegally labeled by FDA regulations if it claims to cure or prevent a disease or condition. Avoid companies that make these claims. For example if it claims to “prevent swine flu” it is illegally labeled and the company should be suspect. However it can claim to “support a healthy immune system”.
Choose companies that package their supplements to prevent degradation by light and moisture. Look for amber bottles with a desiccant pack inside. Avoid companies that package in a clear bottle or container.
Choose companies that make no claims of FDA approval on their products or website. The FDA does not approve supplements. In fact all structure/function claims must be followed by a disclaimer as “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease”. Avoid those companies that make these claims.
Choose companies that follow the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and third party testing. Look for this on the label or their web site. Avoid those that make no such claims.
Choose companies that offer non-synthetic forms of certain vitamins like Vitamin E and beta-carotene which are not only not effective but can be toxic. Avoid companies that either singly or in a multi-vitamin formulas list dl-alpha-tocopherol (synthetic E) and not l-alpha-tocopherol or natural mixed tocopherols; vitamin D2 and not Vitamin D3.
Choose companies that offer standardized extracts of herbs that state not only the strength of the extract like (4:1) but what it is standardized for like Milk Thistle Extract standardized to 80% silymarin. Avoid companies that offer multi vitamins with herbs that are not only not standardized but that contain minuscule amounts of raw herbs that will have no benefits and for which they will justify in charging exorbitant amounts.
Choose companies that offer forms of the vitamin that are most readily absorbed like capsules and liquids. Avoid companies that only offer tablets.