How to Detect a Good Quality Supplement

Posted on 3/31/2015 by Dr. den Boer
Categories: budget, supplements, vitamins

When staring down bottle labels at the pharmacy, how do you determine which supplement is the best? This is a question we often get from patients, and clearly, checking each supplement for the diligent quality control steps mentioned in our last article is a difficult task for the average consumer!  Even doctors and other healthcare practitioners often balk at the task; naturally, they may prefer to spend their time researching which herbs or formulas are likely to be effective in the first place rather than worrying about manufacturing procedures or product purity. Unfortunately, without strong government oversight in the industry, the burden is upon the consumer (you!) to find trusted brands and/or trusted doctors and retailers that watch out for your health and safety.  Though most sellers will likely be unable to show you all of the documents and lab results they use for legal reasons, any quality seller should be more than willing to let you know what their standards are, how they enforce them, and what quality control evidence they need before selling a product.

Naturally, we wouldn’t be talking about this topic if we weren’t passionate about and rigorous in our own quality standards.  In fact, as we’ve mentioned before, Nature’s Remedies was founded simply to be sure we were providing our patients and customers with only safe and effective products.  As such, we have very rigorous quality requirements for each supplement and nutraceutical we carry.  For the sake of transparency and to give you an idea of our quality control measures, we require that:

1. Every product we carry comes directly from the manufacturer, so there is no chance for relabeling, counterfeiting, diluting, or any other form of fraud.
  1. 2. Each supplement we carry that was manufactured in Europe falls under the jurisdiction of German Commission E guidelines, the most rigorous herbal and supplement manufacturing standards in the world.  You can find an English translation of these guidelines here
  2. 3. We receive third-party audits from each American company that we deal with, detailing their quality and purity control methods.  Each company must provide evidence of:
  •       -Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification
  •       -Onsite audits and third-party laboratory testing
  •       -Detailed specifications with suppliers
  •       -Targeted chemical analysis appropriate for each individual ingredient
  •       -Targeted microbial testing on every raw material and finished product
  •       -Enhanced contaminates testing program
  •       -Known herbal adulterants testing
  •       -Strict heavy metal testing standards

We also require additional testing when there are further concerns with quality. For example, after the March 2011 tidal wave destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, there were some concerns about radioactive contaminants making their way into Pacific fish populations, and potentially contaminating fish oil supplements.  Since this incident, we have verified that the companies we use to source our fish oil use only very low-risk fish stocks and species, and test their supplements for several radioactive isotopes.  To date, they have yet to find any trace of contamination.

Additionally, the supplement companies we deal the most with tend to go above and beyond the aforementioned quality control measures. For example, Metagenics, a company we carry many products from, is the only supplement company in America to clinically trial every product on actual human patients before selling it. This allows them to be sure each product works as they intended it to, requiring hard evidence rather than relying upon supposition or simple traditional use. 

Naturally, Natures’ Remedies isn’t the only possible source of high quality supplements! Other good sellers of quality supplements exist as well. We are simply trying to give you the tools to find the best products and companies for yourself, and to let you know the standards we hold ourselves to, and the standards that have provided our patients with the best clinical outcomes over the past nineteen years.We hope that these articles will make it easier for you to navigate the supplement aisles with confidence, and that your health and wellbeing reap the benefits of your knowledge!