Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS)
The Office of Dietary Supplements is a branch of the National Institutes of Health. It is a good resource and an excellent starting place for healthcare providers and patients to learn more about supplements. Their website states: “The mission of ODS is to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, stimulating and supporting research, disseminating research results, and educating the public to foster an enhanced quality of life and health for the U.S. population.”
What is Pharmaceutical Grade? What are nutraceuticals?
Though not official or regulated terms, “pharmaceutical grade” and “nutraceutical” are intended to indicate higher quality, achieving standards similar to pharmaceutical drugs. Typically you can expect consistent quality in terms of purity, concentration, and bioavailability. If a product claims to be pharmaceutical grade, it should be 99% pure with no binders, fillers, dyes or contaminants.
Some healthcare providers do their own independent testing, but there are third-party organizations that some manufacturers use to verify such claims. From the ODS FAQ page: “There are a few independent organizations that offer “seals of approval” that may be displayed on certain dietary supplement products. These indicate that the product has passed the organization’s quality tests for things such as potency and contaminants. These “seals of approval” do not mean that the product is safe or effective; they provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, that it contains the ingredients listed on the label and that it does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.
The following is a list of links to several organizations offering these programs:
- Consumerlab.com approved quality product seal
- NSF International dietary supplement certification
- U.S. Pharmacopeia dietary supplement verification program
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
By law manufacturers must currently comply with a set of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), also known as Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP). Per the ODS, these are “requirements as to how dietary supplements must be manufactured, prepared, and stored to ensure quality. Manufacturers are expected to guarantee the identity, purity, strength, and composition of their dietary supplements. For example, the GMPs aim to prevent the inclusion of the wrong ingredients, the addition of too much or too little of a dietary ingredient, the possibility of contamination (by pesticides, heavy metals such as lead, bacteria, etc.), and the improper packaging and labeling of a product. Some manufacturers voluntarily follow the FDA’s GMPs for drugs, which are stricter.”
What is a Professional Line?
Some manufacturers only sell supplements through certified healthcare providers. These are known as Professional Lines. Doctors Supplement Store carries many professional lines, and we comply with these manufacturers’ policies in offering them through our providers. Generally, these lines are high quality brands, but a healthcare provider must rely on his or her own testing or a reputable seal of approval to be sure.
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