The use of dietary supplements has increased considerably in recent times—attributed largely to a growing awareness of potential side effects from synthetic, prescription medications. Proper supplementation can help fill nutritional gaps in one’s diet, as well as address very specific imbalances within the body. With this increase in usage has come the expected increase in supplement brands to choose from.
More Than Meets the Eye
While many manufacturers may sell a supplement labeled with the same ingredients, there are certain trusted brands offering pharmaceutical grade supplements that are trusted and used by healthcare professionals. These high quality brands offer pure ingredients free of fillers, additives, contaminants, and are guaranteed to contain the ingredients listed on the labels—and are considered to be pharmaceutical grade supplements.Supplements are regulated by the FDA as food products, and are subject to much less scrutiny of efficacy before hitting the store shelves. Clinical trials aren’t require as are with prescription medication, which allow many manufacturers to get away with adding fillers and unwanted materials.
You typically get what you pay for with supplements; the more expensive brands being the most pure, and the cheaper brands using extra fillers
What this means is, that while you may have much easier access to supplements than prescription medications, you must pay much more attention to the quality of product you are getting. Luckily, there are quite a few brands available now that are doctor-trusted supplements, and adhere to the guidelines pharmaceuticals manufacturing. You typically get what you pay for with supplements; the more expensive brands being the most pure, and the cheaper brands using extra fillers, questionable inactive ingredients, and overall less pure ingredients. Price tags don’t always equate with quality but it’s a good guideline to go buy. Until you know more about a particular brand—assume cheap price means cheap ingredients!
Dangers of Untrusted Supplements
A Canadian research group conducted a study among many different generic brand supplements, using DNA testing to verify their ingredients. They found that many of these supplements, most common to grocery stores such as Walgreens and Wal-Mart, contained unlisted fillers, contaminants, completely different compounds than listed, and in some cases no active herbal ingredients at all! They found that over 60% of the store brand supplements tested had incorrect labeling, and more than 50% of those tested didn’t contain the advertised ingredient! For example, two of the bottle tested were of St. John’s Wort, which has been shown to have the ability to treat mild symptoms of depression. As it turned out, neither one of the tested bottles contained St. John’s Wort—one contained nothing but rice, and the other a powerful Egyptian-native shrub that is a powerful laxative! This study proved that the use of un-trusted supplements can not only be ineffective but also dangerous.
Over 60% of the store brand supplements tested had incorrect labeling, and more than 50% of those tested didn’t contain the advertised ingredient!
With such a presence of inferior supplement products on the market, it is very important to make sure you are buying a high quality product from a highly-trusted manufacturer. There are many brands available that offer products considered to be pharmaceutical grade supplements. These are supplements that are produced under rigorous laboratory conditions, tested for purity, contaminants, and are free of allergens and questionable ingredients. These supplements are regarded as the top-tier of quality within the vitamin and supplement world, and are often prescribed by Integrative Doctors as well as Holistic and Naturopathic Practitioners. These products are also offered with many synergistic compounds to help increase the bio-availability of the active ingredient. This means is that not only are pharmaceutical grade supplements a purer product, but most times more able to be absorbed properly by your body. You can be sure that you will be getting only those ingredients listed on the labels, and that there will be no surprises.
Why Pharmaceutical Grade Supplements are Important
Health is much like a balancing of scales, in that many things are inter-connected and the changing of one may affect another. Dietary and nutritional supplementation is an effective means by which to address certain imbalances such as depression and anxiety [1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10711131], without great risk of complication [2. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/aug2013/feature1] or negative effect.
The complexity of the human body can often make narrowing down pathology a tricky business. After beginning a new supplement, you may notice that some symptoms improve while new ones appear. Keeping an accurate account of the changes and response in your health is paramount, ensuring that you aren’t being exposed to any unknown substances is also of vital importance. For example, you may have just started a supplement to address what you feel to be excessive hunger. This supplement may have effectively reduced your cravings to eat between meals, but at the same time have caused you to become slightly lethargic. This type of situation is common when determining a best course of dietary supplementation, as you learn how your body responds to different compounds.
All true pharmaceutical-grade supplements are produced in a non-allergen facility free from dairy, eggs, wheat, gluten, nuts, and other ingredients viewed as common allergens
If you are taking supplements that aren’t considered to be pharmaceutical grade, you very well may be ingesting many more ingredients than you know. If you have a negative reaction to this type of supplement, it can be hard to know if the active ingredient is what is causing you an issue, or if it is one of the “inactive” ingredients. Avoiding this type of peril is critical for those suffering from allergies or food sensitivities. All true pharmaceutical-grade supplements are produced in a non-allergen facility free from dairy, eggs, wheat, gluten, nuts, and other ingredients viewed as common allergens. This means production equipment isn’t shared with food processing machines, nor produced in the same facility with other allergens. Maybe you’ve seen a label before on something you’ve bought that says something to the effect of “produced in a facility that also produces tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and dairy.” These are especially common to store brand food items, since manufacturers often use the same equipment to package all their products. You WILL NOT see this label on any supplement that is truly pharmaceutical-grade.
[alert type=yellow ]Tip: Read our article on the Best Supplement & Vitamin Brands to discover which brands offer pharmaceutical-grade quality and are trusted by doctors around the world.[/alert]
Trusted Supplement Manufacturers
You won’t find many pharmaceutical grade supplements in your local health-food store, and large chains such as The Vitamin Shoppe don’t carry many of them either. Most health care professionals such as Integrative Doctors, Naturopaths, or Holistic Practitioners commonly prescribe these types of supplements to their patients—and often keep their own inventory. This is the best method of gaining access to these types of quality supplements—because it comes with the direction and consult of a trained professional. In some cases you’ll be able to find a few products offered by these brands locally, but usually only a fraction of the manufacturers’ complete line.
If you don’t have this type of local access, there are several online retailers which offer many of the pharmaceutical grade supplements a health practitioner may offer. The brands that fall into pharmaceutical grade range of quality are often carried by retailers that offer very competitive pricing, discounts, as well as very reasonable shipping fees.
Health care professionals such as Integrative Doctors, Naturopaths, or Holistic Practitioners commonly prescribe these types of supplements to their patients
These same high quality brands will also have their version of most vitamins or supplements you are looking for, as well as many other more specific options to choose from. When you get to this level of supplement quality, there are often several different versions of the same supplement; offered with different fortifying agents, different encapsulation methods, and several other variations used to ensure that these high-potency formulas are able to be utilized fully by your body.
These supplements are for those looking to get the best impact possible, while keeping exposure to unwanted contaminants such as pesticide residues and filling agents to a minimum. For the scope of this article, we will be focusing on a single supplement manufacturer to better address all the different variables that go into making a quality supplement in today’s market. If you are interested in discovering more of these types of manufacturers, I suggest you check out our post The Best Supplement Brands: A Comprehensive Guide & Review, which compares the benefits of the leading supplement manufacturers on the market today.
Pharmaceutical grade supplements offer themselves as powerful allies in the ability to help achieve, and maintain, a healthy balance. Health care professionals utilize these ultra-pure formulas to help ensure their patients aren’t being exposed to any unnecessary toxins, fillers, or otherwise unwanted ingredients. The truth is, you will benefit from choosing to purchase supplements from any of these manufacturers. You will find that each of them excel in different areas, while all excel in the area of product purity and bio-availability.
Health care professionals utilize these ultra-pure formulas to help ensure their patients aren’t being exposed to any unnecessary toxins
It is wise to regard all of these brands as a single option—pharmaceutical grade supplements—and choose from a combined product line to broaden your options. Helping to achieve, maintain, or restore a healthy balance to your body is quite possibly the most rewarding experience you’ll ever endeavor. The road can be challenging, filled with confusion, difficulty and frustration. Taking advantage of the purity and bioavailability that pharmaceutical grade supplements offer can help make this journey much more successful, as well as enjoyable.