The 5 Marks of a High Quality Supplement

Marie Parks

Ever walked into a vitamin department or supplement store and felt overwhelmed by all the choices? You're not alone - there are just so many different supplements and brands to choose from.

To make it even more difficult, they all claim to be high quality products and proven to work—but are they really? And how do you even know?

We understand that each company will have their own quality standards which may differ, but here are 5 of the primary factors to look for when choosing a high quality supplement or brand.

Choose Supplements with Premium Raw Materials

The country where raw materials are from is a large concern for many people, especially those ingredients from China. However, the country of origin of an ingredient isn’t as important as the quality of them. For example, you can have a high-quality raw material from China, while the same raw material from the U.S.A. isn’t as pure—but people still are drawn toward those being marketed as being sourced and made in the U.S.A.

There are reputable raw material suppliers all around the world…it just takes stringent standards and testing to find them! Next time you are wondering about where an ingredient is from, also inquire about how that company tests those raw materials to determine if they’re good enough for their product. It’s best if they have various tests for identity, purity, and potency in place. These tests are important to ensuring that the material is exactly what it’s supposed to be and that it isn’t contaminated with outside materials, microbes, or heavy metals.

Look for Ingredients Validated by Research

In addition to the ingredients being pure and potent, you want to make sure that the forms and doses of ingredients are the same as what has shown to be beneficial in research studies. Don’t be fooled by the “all-in-one” benefits of products containing a long list of nutrients, as these likely have a dusting of many ingredients, but not actually enough of any to be beneficial.

How do find this information out? Companies that use research-backed ingredients and doses will usually have the study references in their product descriptions or readily available for you to see. However, you need to be aware of companies that put “references” on their websites so it looks reputable, but the study was actually done by them. It’s fine to have your own research, but you also want to see studies that have been published in scientific journals.

Third-Party Certifications Matter

Having an independent or third-party certification assures you that the company is truthfully adhering to strict quality standards (and not just telling you that they are). Programs such as NSF International regularly evaluate companies under third-party certification programs to make sure that they’re consistently meeting the highest standards of good practices for quality assurance and control.

One of these programs (the one that Life Extension adheres to) is GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices). GMP requires companies to be audited twice a year to assess facility cleanliness and sanitation, as well as the quality of systems like documentation of complaints and returns (so that any issues can be fixed properly), training, as well as product label accuracy.

Other such third-party certification programs are ConsumerLab and the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) Program.

Analysis of Finished Product

Just as important as having testing in place for the raw materials that go into a product, it’s crucial to test the final product. In addition to the active ingredient(s) in a product, there are also other ingredients that are solely for ensuring quality during the manufacturing process.

For example, you might have a very high quality raw material, but it’s not dispersed evenly through all the capsules when it’s being made. This is only one of the many reasons why testing of the finished product is critical. If a company tests these final batches of a product, they truly care about the quality of product they’re providing you.

Quality Supplements Offer Proof of Quality

The information from the product testing should not be a secret. Upon request, this information should be readily available to you.

The company should be able to give you some kind of documentation such as a Certificate of Analysis that shows the test results of what the product actually has in it so that you can be sure it matches what is claimed on the label (and that it doesn’t have too high amounts of potentially damaging substances such as heavy metals and microbes).

The Bottom Line

These are five of the main attributes to look for when trying to find high quality products. There may be other qualities that some people are looking for when they’re shopping, but at minimum, they should meet these five criteria.

If you can’t find this information out at first glance, give the company a call—if they have stringent quality standards like we do, they will be happy to share them with you!

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