Many of you may have read or heard about the New York Attorney General‘s (AG) recent strong action by calling out at least 4 major retail stores (Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, Target and GNC) to stop selling store-brand herbal supplements that tests found questionable. The New York State AG’s action followed a Clarkson University study he commissioned using the controversial DNA barcoding methodology to identify its botanical ingredient.
I thought it might be a good time now to give a brief but concise summary of what has been said by various experts in this field so that we all can have a balanced perspective on this matter.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires all drug companies to meet strict standards for safety and proper labeling. But natural supplement requirements are not as strict as the prescription medicines.
Enter the NY State Attorney General who has commissioned this recent investigation at Clarkson University, which tested hundreds of bottles of store-brand herbal supplements of all kinds, and found 4 out of 5 contained none of the herbs listed on the labels. They consistently used the DNA barcoding test method.
There has been a 2013 Canadian study on the supplements at the University of Guelph that corroborated with the above results. The Guelph researchers used DNA fingerprinting to find that a third of 44 supplements tested contained no trace of the plant on the lab.
Unsurprisingly, the supplement industry are raising questions about the validity of the tests used by the Clarkson staff. The testing method has been even challenged by some of most respected independent research institutions. Here is a sample of some comments made:
“There’s no problem with DNA barcoding as a science; however, it should be used appropriately. It has limitations,” said Nandakumara Sarma, director of dietary supplements for US Pharmacopeia, which sets quality standards and testing protocols for drugs, vitamins and supplements.
Mark Blumenthal, founder and director of the internationally respected American Botanical Council, a non-profit research and education organization said: “We raised the question if any of these products are extracts, and if so, what other analytical technologies were used to help ensure the validity of the results obtained by DNA testing.” Mark added, “at least some of the products cited by the New York AG are likely made from extracts, which can be validated by other common lab tests.”
Tod Cooperman, president of the consumer-funded ConsumerLab.com, added “There are definitely problems with herbal supplements but this is not the right method to test those products.”
Pieter Cohen, a Harvard Medical School researcher whose area of expertise is tracking down dangerous supplements, said “there is so much wrong with the quality of supplements today that it’s a shame the New York attorney general is not using sound science to focus on the most important problems,”
So, in spite of questions about the test results and the validity of the method used, one thing we learned here is there are controversies and many uncertainties about the quality of supplements being sold in the United States.
As a consumer of these products, what are you to do?
First and foremost, I suggest to get educated, read all labels, and only buy from high integrity companies (not necessarily most popular brands) that you trust. Permit me to share with you some general criteria you may use to choosing excellent products from mediocre (potentially dangerous) kinds.
OWN V. THIRD-PARTY MANUFACTURING:
While over 85% of all the nutritional supplement companies in the US market today use third-party manufacturers for their products. You should consider the brand that manufacturers their own products. This typically means they will test the income raw material and test again the outgoing finished products. So, the likelihood of getting a product that does not contain its label claimed active ingredients is significantly reduced with the brands that have their own quality control versus those who don’t. They guarantee the quality and stand behind every bottle they sell.
Nature’s Sunshine runs its own 250,000 plus square-foot facility with climate-controlled warehouse and cutting-edge laboratory equipment. They have over 600 different incoming tests and every final batch of products are inspected and re-tested to qualify for the active ingredient content before shipped out. How do I know all that? I have been to their manufacturing site many times and saw its Certified Good Manufacturing Practices in operation first hand.
This means Nature’s Sunshine is focused on primarily using the highest quality and uncontaminated raw material for optimum delivery of nutrients to your body.
NSF CERTIFIED GMP with FDA PHARMACEUTICAL STANDARDS V. NO STANDARD:
There is no requirement by law for a nutritional supplement manufacturer to meet the FDA pharmaceutical grade standards, but Nature’s Sunshine volunteers to meet and exceed the current government Good Manufacturing Practices and all FDA and NSF pharmaceutical quality, and international standards. By doing so, NSP is ensuring the products you buy are of purest, safest ingredients and their potency is guaranteed to meet the label claim. No empty and useless fillers here!
MASTER HERBALIST FORMULATIONS V. NON-PROVEN FORMULATIONS:
A mixture of over 500 different supplemental products using the most recent botanical research findings as well as the time-proven traditional herbal formulations from a host of renown master herbalists affords you to feel assured that products you are getting are uniquely formulated by experts of the field for most optimum effect for any of your wellness supplement needs.
AWARD WINNING MANUFACTURING AND QUALITY:
You don’t have to just take my words for it. Nature’s Sunshine has been past recipients of many nationally recognized manufacturing quality awards, including the 2002 Supplement Manufacturer of the Year and 2013 America’s Most Trustworthy Companies by Forbes.
Furthermore, in the midst of the latest news on questionable supplements on the market, Nature’s Sunshine has issued a press-release re-assuring once again about their commitment to quality. You are welcome to click here to read the press release in its entirety.
To demonstrate NSP’s future commitment to quality of supplements, Nature’s Sunshine have just announced yesterday on CNBC website a multi-million dollar research center to uncover the effects of nutritional products on the human body. With Utah Governor’s help, the opening of Nature’s Sunshine’s Hughes Center for Research and Innovation is now official. Nature’s Sunshine’s CEO Greg Probert stated, “We are opening the most advanced research center of its kind to discover solutions because we are deeply committed to identifying the most effective natural products to combat these growing mega-trends.” Click here to see the announcement on CNBC. Here is the ribbon cutting picture.
In the sea of questionable supplement brands and quality, there is Nature’s Sunshine leading the supplement industry in quality and research and being recognized worldwide for it. <em>Are you still looking for absolutely the best quality of supplements for your health?</em> Then search no longer, you have found the place to get absolutely the best quality supplement you can buy, period!
Feel free to send me any question or feedback you may have. Thank you.
To Your Health,