NOT ALL SUPPLEMENTS ARE CREATED EQUALLY
The most common question clients have is about the difference between supplement products from the corner drugstore (usually price cheaper and made with lower grade products and fillers) or from a recommended brand specific supplement (usually priced a little higher, but has less to no fillers and a purer ingredient base). The long story short is you are paying for product quality and product purity.
There are a multitude of supplement options available in stores and online today which can be overwhelming when trying to decide which supplements are right for you. How do you know you are getting a high-quality and safe supplement that is going to work in the sea of options on the market? Start by getting to know the brand and their quality standards. Here are some questions to consider when choosing your supplementation:
Is it food-grade (sold over-the-counter) or professional-grade (sold through a practitioner or clinic)?
What certifications does the supplement company have?
What form of vitamins and minerals are used in the product?
How many other ingredients and fillers and what types are used in the product?
Does it contain potential allergens, artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives?
Do I trust the seller?
These are just some of the key factors that must be considered when deciding which supplements to purchase. Not all companies follow the same manufacturing practices or use the same raw materials which can lead to an inferior product that may not work as well. This is one of the cornerstone differences between professional-grade and food grade supplementation (sold over-the-counter). For example, it may take 4-8 capsules of a food grade supplement to be equivalent to 1 professional-grade capsule.
So, what does professional-grade mean anyway? It means that you are getting a high-quality supplements in its pure-form that has been third-party tested to meet quality and potency standards. Professional-grade supplement manufacturers go through many of the same rigorous processes that pharmaceutical drugs do. They also meet or exceed strict cGMP, NSF, Kosher certified quality standards in FDA regulated manufacturing facilities. What do these certifications and strict standards mean?
FDA Registered and Inspected Laboratories- Professional supplement companies manufacture supplements in FDA registered laboratories and are held to the same standards and regular inspections required in pharmaceutical industry.
Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMPs) regulations are communicated by the USDA under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. These regulations require manufacturers, by law, to take the necessary steps to ensure that a product is safe, pure and effective. By implementing these processes, it protects the consumer.
National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) is a program that provides standards for independent testing and product certification for dietary supplements. Products that are NSF certified have been tested for unacceptable levels of contaminants but have also undergone a toxicology and label review. It certifies the supplement contains exactly what is on the label and it does not contain any unlisted ingredients. Manufacturers with the NSF certification are also inspected regularly to ensure they are meeting standards for safety and quality.
Third-Party Testing- Every batch of finished product is third-party tested by a qualified lab to verify that what is on the label is exactly what is in each dose and that it meets cGMP requirements. Some companies may cut corners to reduce costs and test only one to two batches of product before distribution. This leaves a level of uncertainty as to whether the product that wasn’t tested matches it labels claims for nutrient amount.
Electronic Tracing- Professional supplement companies may also choose to enact an electronic tracing program that begins with the manufacturer and documents the transfer history of raw material until it is delivered to the company for dispensing This technology is currently used in the pharmaceutical industry to prevent counterfeit products from being used in the production of prescription drugs. By tracing the history of the raw material, the authenticity and storage conditions are verifiable.
Nutrient Standard Differences
- Each dose contains therapeutic levels of all-natural nutrients
- Minerals are in their most absorbable form - so you get the most out of every dose
- Whenever possible, products are hypo-allergenic, meaning they don’t contain allergenic ingredients
- Use standardized herbs which concentrate active ingredients for the greatest therapeutic effect
-No Synthetic Vitamin E
- Uses the active form of Folic Acid (5-Methyltetrahyrofolate or 5-MTHF) and vitamin B-12 (methylcobalamin) over plain molecule folic acid and cyanocobalamin.
-Triglyceride form of Omega-3 fatty acids
Does Not Contain
-Unless necessary, common allergens (wheat/gluten, milk/casein, corn, soybeans, eggs, peanuts)
-Artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners
-Binders, fillers, excipients, and preservatives
-Trans or hydrogenated fats
-Coatings and Shellacs
Food Grade (sold over-the-counter) or the Mega Deal Supplement
- May need 4-8 capsules to be equivalent to 1 professional-grade capsule
- Many contain artificial colors, preservatives and sweeteners
- Minerals are in forms such as carbonates and oxides that are not as well absorbed so what is on the label isn’t what is actually absorbed
- May contain allergenic ingredients more often
- Use dry herb powders which have very little benefit
- Binding agents and shellacs can interfere with absorption and are not necessary
More about Professional Grade Nutrient Differences:
No Synthetic Vitamin E. Did you know that Vitamin E is actually a group of 8 compounds- tocotrienols and tocopherols and each has a specific role in the body? Most supplement companies will utilize d-alpha tocopherol or opt for the less expensive synthetic dl-alpha tocopherol form of vitamin E. When reading a supplement label, look for vitamin E as d-alpha tocopherol with mixed tocopherols (including alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocopherols).
Folic acid is found in fortified processed foods and poor quality vitamins to cut costs. With over 80% of the population not able to properly metabolize folic acid into its active form, folic acid can buildup which can actually alter the function of the folate enzyme. Professional brands use the active form of folic acid- 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) which is cell-ready and readily used by the body.
Triglyceride form of Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally found in fresh cold water fish such as salmon, anchovies and sardines. Most professional companies will use the triglyceride form of fish oil over the less expensive ethyl ester form because it is 100% more absorbable and easier to digest. The fish oil has also gone through a molecular distillation process to remove heavy metals, PCB’s and other toxins. The final product is also tested for heavy metals and impurities. The Standard American Diet is deficient in Omega-3’s which is why it is important to take a supplement that will supply the optimal levels of the active constituents in fish oil- EPA and DHA, but also in a highly absorbable form. There are many non-professional brands that will market a 1000mg per softgel fish oil supplement, but did you know that this is not always the amount of EPA and DHA you are getting? When reading the supplement facts label for a fish oil supplement you have to check the EPA and DHA content. Studies now show we need 2000 mg of EPA and DHA combined for overall health. It could take 6-8 soft-gels of a mega-deal or food-grade supplement to get the same dose as 2 professional-grade fish oil softgels.
Educate Yourself Further