CBC recently aired investigations by Marketplace and the Fifth Estate examining the practices of the supplement industry, and in all fairness the report was slanted and not presented accurately. The reports used U.S. content to confuse the viewers, showing trade show hustling, biased U.S. experts and even U.S. laboratory testing as if to say Canada does not possess experts or quality laboratory testing facilities which certainly is not the case. Several of the companies mentioned in the report have since responded, but the report did shed light on legitimate customer concerns.
We must be able to have an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs; public trust has also greatly waned for this group too. The alternative must be of the same high quality as used in the pharmaceutical industry, but without the damaging side effects and with GMP quality manufacturing. Testing must become the assurance consumers look for when buying natural food supplements but the testing cannot be assumed to be captured under a single method.
Suppliers have a responsibility to their customers, for what is on the label must be what is in the product. Product quality without a company’s ethical value and proper oversight leaves too great a gap for speculation. Management without moral consciousness will resort to all levels in order to sell a product for the greatest possible profit, and that could mean lying about the ingredients of their product, and the same holds true to the pharmaceutical industry.
It is not fare to group all Nutricutical companies in the same category, each must stand on their own merits; whenever transparency is an issue it gives good reason for the public to be weary. High standards can make all the difference, and consumers should be on the lookout for companies that can prove their quality. Below are some things to look for when choosing an effective supplement.
Amino acids should be made from fermentation process. One of the benefits of fermentation is the non-animal process; something many customers attest is an important benefit of the fermentation process. Most amino acids are made by extraction or a chemical synthesis and not by fermentation. Consumers should consider not taking amino acids produced by extraction process as it is not a very environmentally friendly process and uses sewage sludge, avian feathers or human hair in the process.
Raw materials vary greatly, most are purchased on price alone and don’t use the purest possible USP pharmaceutical grade standards because price point on the shelf has taken president. In Canada consumers have greater assurances when purchasing supplements as all products sold must be licensed by Health Canada; those sold in the U.S.A. do not have the same standards or government oversight, but even this standard is not enough.
Source materials can be genetically modified or subjected to organic or aqueous solvents and therefore chlorohydrocarbon remain as residue in the tissues.
Fillers and excipients are also cause for concern, consumers should examine the potency of the product and see how it matches the size of the tablet or capsules, an example 3 mg of the active in a 400 mg tablet, the amount of added fillers lessen the absorption. Excipients should be from a natural content such as microcrystalline cellulose (vegetable source), stearic acid, flow agent (vegetable source), and if you are vegetarian look for capsules produced from vegetarian source, where no animal gelatin is used.
Consumer have the full legal right to demand quality in the supplements they are taking and if the companies are found to be fraudulent then they should be held accountable, but only after assuring there was no stone unturned and all the facts have been considered. Consumers must be given a choice concerning their health care be it from non-GMO food to pharmaceutical drugs or Nutricutical health care products. Pharmaceutical standards can be used in the supplement industry so that every component of the manufacturing process results in therapeutic results and in the end isn’t results what we are looking for; it is high time to set the guidelines and to raise the standards straight across the board.
Eldon Dahl, Doctorate in natural medicine,
Founder and CEO of Life Choice Ltd, Est. 1986