Vitamin Therapy

This Topic Covers: Which vitamins to buy. What vitamins are and their role and function. Personalized nutrition. Synthetic vitamins vs. whole food supplements. Selecting quality vitamins. Vitamin therapy for prevention, maintenance and for the correction of conditions and illnesses.


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Vitamins, used therapeutically, can be of immense help in fighting disease and speeding recovery. They can be used in two ways, namely, correcting deficiencies and treating disease in place of drugs. Latest researches indicate that many vitamins taken in large doses far above the actual nutritional needs, can have a miraculous healing effect in a wide range of common complaints and illnesses. Vitamin therapy has a distinct advantage over drug therapy. While drugs are always toxic and have many undesirable side effects, vitamins, as a rule are non-toxic and safe.  

Reference - - Council for Responsible Nutrition

When it enacted the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, Congress recognized the role supplements can play in health promotion and in the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. This comprehensive piece of legislation established a new regulatory framework for supplements, ensuring continued access to safe products, made to quality standards. It also allowed for increased dissemination of information about the health benefits of these products.

In passing this landmark legislation, Congress set forth a number of "findings" which emphasize the importance of communicating the positive benefits of supplements to the American public. Congress found that:

  • The importance of nutrition and the benefits of dietary supplements in health promotion and disease prevention have been documented increasingly in scientific studies;

  • There is a link between ingestion of certain nutrients or dietary supplements and the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis;

  • Preventive health measures, including education, good nutrition, and appropriate use of safe nutritional supplements will limit the incidence of chronic diseases and reduce long-term health care expenditures;

  • Consumers should be empowered to make choices about preventive health care programs based on data from scientific studies of health benefits related to particular dietary supplements;

  • There is a growing need for emphasis on the dissemination of information linking nutrition and long-term good health;

  • National surveys have revealed that almost 50 percent of the 260,000,000 Americans regularly consume dietary supplements of vitamins, minerals or herbs as a means of improving their nutrition;

  • Legislative action that protects the right of access of consumers to safe dietary supplements is necessary in order to promote wellness;

  • Dietary supplements are safe within a broad range of intake, and safety problems with supplements are relatively rare;

  • Although the Federal Government should take swift action against products that are unsafe or adulterated, the Federal Government should not impose unreasonable regulatory barriers limiting or slowing the flow of safe products and accurate information to consumers;

  • A rational Federal framework must be established to supersede the current ad hoc, patchwork regulatory policy on dietary supplements.

One of the most important issues involving supplemental nutritional products is the "Quality" of the ingredients. The fact of the matter is that almost all vitamin preparations are produced by only two or three large international pharmaceutical companies. BASF (Germany), Hoffmann-La Roche (Switzerland) and Takeda (Japan) are three of the largest producers of bulk vitamin and mineral raw materials. These materials are then purchased by wholesale producers and/or smaller nutrition specialty companies for formulation and/or repackaging and labeling. Thus, the primary determinant of "Quality" for most nutritional preparations is freshness... the time from manufacture to sale.

In most cases, more expensive "pharmaceutical grade" vitamin and mineral products tend to have the highest quality (freshest, most pure) ingredients. In some cases pharmaceutical grade ingredients may be used. Cheaper vitamin brands are usually made from ware-housed older raw materials sold at a cheaper price. In almost all circumstances the most "cost effective" brands are made from auctioned raw materials that are near the expiration date of their shelf life.

  Survey Statistics, Copyright  Dietary Supplement Education Alliance

Surveys of dietary intake and physical and laboratory data reveal that the typical American diet does not always provide a sufficient level of nutrients to support optimal health. Many clinicians also acknowledge that some Americans may need a vitamin and/or mineral or other supplement to meet specific nutrient needs.

Recent studies have also found health benefits associated with dietary supplements. For example,

  • A Johns Hopkins study noted trauma patients who received vitamins E and C spent less time in Intensive Care Units and were “less likely to experience organ failure.”

  • Progression of Alzheimer’s disease may be slowed by high doses of vitamins according to a Georgetown University pilot study with additional therapeutic trials underway.

  • In a longitudinal study, high doses of vitamin supplements were beneficial to individuals with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

  • A recent, limited Carolinas Medical Center study noted that adults with type-2 diabetes who take supplements reported fewer infections than those who did not take supplements.

Supplements are easy to add to the daily diet, and are often the first step consumers take toward greater nutritional awareness, and the adoption of other healthy lifestyle choices. About half of American consumers now use supplements, according to recent surveys

The Lewin Group, Inc. was commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA) to conduct an evidence-based study of five dietary supplements that could potentially improve users’ health. The purpose of this study is threefold: (1) to critically review the research evidence for each supplement, (2) to develop estimates of the potential health care expenditure savings that could result from daily use of two of the supplements, and (3) for supplements where there is emerging evidence, to suggest areas of future research that would fill existing knowledge gaps…

The overall conclusion of this study is that in certain instances, supplements are an inexpensive and safe way to improve health status and reduce health care expenditures...  Click here to download the full report (PDF – 2.3 MB). - Institute of Food Technologists, © Institute of Food Technologists

National nutrition surveys have focused on the use of traditional vitamin and mineral supplements. About 25% of 11,643 adults who took part in the 1992 National Health Interview Survey took supplements every day (Slesinski et al., 1996). Individuals taking vitamins had significantly lower fat diets, with more fiber and vitamins (calcium for women), suggesting that supplement users have generally healthy lifestyles.

Users of dietary supplements tend to be female, college educated, and have incomes over $50,000 (Eisenberg et al., 1998). In one survey, elderly Georgia residents who used dietary supplements were more likely to be physically active, and to have more arthritis or stomach problems than their non-user neighbors (Houston et al., 1997). Calcium, vitamin E, and vitamin C were the most popular supplements used within this group, and the researchers concluded that supplement use was part of a cluster of health behaviors practiced by this group…

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Each year in North American alone people spend over $20 billion on vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements, believing that these products are benefiting them. But are they? What is the real truth about vitamins?  If we eat a balanced diet, do we really need nutritional supplements? To answer this question we have to go back to our roots - our soil.

The body is unable to manufacture most vitamins for itself, and so they must be obtained from nutritional sources. During the early 1900s, in our grandparents' time, the soil was rich with nutrients that produced healthy, vigorous crops high in vitamin content. Today, due to modern factory farming practices, our soils are sadly laced with industrial pollution, pesticides and chemical fertilizers that not only contaminate the soil, but activate increased soil erosion. Because of poor soil quality and nutrients, our foods have only a fraction of the nutrient value of 70-100 years ago. 

Polluted air and water systems deplete our bodies of their store of nutrients, such as antioxidants including vitamins and minerals that are necessary for protecting our health. Add the stresses of modern life to this and as a population we are left with ever-weakening genetic and immune systems. Therefore, vitamin and nutrient supplementation is more crucial than before.

The mineral depletion of our soils and foods is not news. The U.S. government has been issuing official warnings since 1936. The U.S. Senate Document #264, published by the 2nd session of the 74th Congress in 1936 stated the following:

"Most of us today are suffering from certain dangerous diet deficiencies which cannot be remedied until the depleted soils from which our foods come are brought [back] into proper mineral balance. Foods, fruits, vegetables and grains that are now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain enough of certain needed minerals, are starving us - no matter how much of these foods we eat. Leading authorities state that 99% of the American people are deficient in these minerals, and that a marked deficiency in any one of the more important minerals actually results in disease. Any upset of the balance or any considerable lack of one or another element, however microscopic, causes problems and we sicken, suffer, and shorten our lives. Lacking vitamins, the system can make some use of minerals; but lacking minerals, vitamins are useless."

This report was offered over 70 years ago. Just imagine how it would read today.


   The Need For Vitamins

Reference - - medlineplus

Vitamins are substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally. There are 13 vitamins your body needs. They are vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate). You can usually get all your vitamins from the foods you eat. Your body can also make vitamins D and K…

Each vitamin has specific jobs. If you have low levels of certain vitamins, you may develop a deficiency disease. For example, if you don't get enough vitamin D, you could develop rickets. Some vitamins may help prevent medical problems...

The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods. In some cases, you may need to take a daily multivitamin for optimal health. However, high doses of some vitamins can make you sick.


The Need for Vitamin Supplements 

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The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) defines a dietary supplement as a product that:

  • supplements the food you eat;

  • contains one or more dietary ingredient (including vitamins; minerals; herbs or other botanicals; amino acids, and other substances);

  • comes in pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid form; and

  • is labeled as a dietary supplement.

There are different types of dietary, or nutritional, supplements. Vitamin and mineral supplements are types of dietary supplements containing micronutrients meant to help a healthy body function smoothly. Herbal (or botanical) supplements are dietary supplements that have a medicinal purpose. Herbal supplements generally support a specific area of the body’s health, such as the liver, bones or skin.

Ensuring smart supplementation - The word “supplement” means something added. In this case, you’re “adding” to a basic healthy diet and lifestyle, or to a prescription medication or therapy to treat a medical condition…

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Foundation Is a Multivitamin: The base of any supplementation program is a multivitamin with minerals, containing at least 400 micrograms (0.4 milligram) of the B vitamin folic acid. Multivitamins are the most commonly used product in the dietary supplement category. There are 13 recognized vitamins and products have all of them in addition to an assortment of minerals. There are 12 minerals for which "Reference Daily Intakes" have been established by the Food and Drug Administration, for purposes of nutrition labeling.

A multivitamin/mineral product will fill most nutrient gaps in normal diets. It will also easily provide the 400 mcg of folic acid that women of childbearing age should get every day, for the sake of their unborn babies. Most pregnancies are unplanned, so being ready for the unexpected means taking that multivitamin every day. Folic acid taken before pregnancy and during the first trimester can greatly reduce the risk of having a baby with neural tube birth defect such as spina bifida, according to the March of Dimes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But multivitamins are not just for young women. Multivitamins with folic acid may also help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in men and women of all ages. Folic acid, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 help reduce blood levels of homocysteine (an amino acid produced in the body), and people with lower homocysteine levels have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. It is the long-term use of multivitamins that is most beneficial, so consumers should resolve in the year 2005 to make this a lifelong habit.


    Benefits of Nutritional Supplements

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June 20, 2012—The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the dietary supplement industry’s leading trade association, today released its comprehensive report, The Benefits of Nutritional Supplements (4th Edition).  The updated book, which assesses the current state of the science on the health benefits associated with select nutritional supplements, finds consistent and adequate use of these products contributes to overall health and wellness throughout all age groups, lifestyles, and life stages.

Specifically, the report addresses the current state of the science regarding multivitamins and other supplements, including antioxidants (vitamins C and E), calcium, long chain omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils), vitamin D, vitamins B-6 and B-12, fiber and folic acid.  It includes studies that demonstrate benefit as well as studies with null results and also addresses studies that purport to have found harm.  It discusses who needs dietary supplements (nearly everyone), who takes dietary supplements (most everyone), and who recommends dietary supplements—the majority of many physician specialists (primary care physicians, OB/GYNs, cardiologists, dermatologists, and orthopedists), as well as other health professionals (nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and registered dietitians). 

As reported by the Council for Responsible Nutrition – Executive Summary and Call To Action reports on the following topics:

  • Who Needs Supplements
  • Nutritional Supplements for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • Recommended Intakes of Vitamins and Minerals
  • Who Uses Vitamins and Minerals, and more...

Two ways to access the book:

‘© All rights reserved. is an ad-free non-profit resource for supporting better mental health and lifestyle choices for adults and children.’

Health benefits of vitamin and mineral supplements: Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that serve a specific purpose and benefit the body in a unique way. For example, vitamin A supports vision and bone growth, whereas vitamin E strengthens the immune system and helps repair DNA. Vitamin and mineral deficiency can impair the body’s ability to heal and protect itself.

Taking vitamins does not make up for an unhealthy diet, and vitamins are an insufficient substitute for nutrients from fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, a general multivitamin and mineral supplement can be a good safeguard against periodic vitamin shortfalls in your diet.

Some groups of people, because of distinct nutritional needs, benefit most from taking a vitamin and mineral supplement:

  • Women of childbearing age (need extra calcium and iron)

  • Pregnant or lactating women

  • Children and teenagers with irregular eating habits

  • Seniors

  • Vegetarians or vegans (may be deficient in key nutrients)

  • Dieters or people avoiding certain food groups (may be deficient in key nutrients)

  • People with eating disorders or medical conditions (deficiency diseases, absorption problems, lactose intolerance, etc.)

  • People who often eat processed and fast food

Reference -

If you don't eat a nutritious variety of foods, some supplements might help you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients. However, supplements can't take the place of the variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet. Good sources of information on eating well include the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate.

Scientific evidence shows that some dietary supplements are beneficial for overall health and for managing some health conditions. For example, calcium and vitamin D are important for keeping bones strong and reducing bone loss; folic acid decreases the risk of certain birth defects; and omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils might help some people with heart disease. Other supplements need more study to determine their value. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not determine whether dietary supplements are effective before they are marketed.


  Assessing Dietary Supplement Safety - ©  American Nutrition Association

Assessing claims of functional foods and nutritional supplements: With more and more products on the market claiming to have health benefits for the consumer, this panel will help you better understand how to evaluate these claims and separate fact from fiction.

  • CDC reports estimate that foodborne diseases cause 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the US each year

  • Adverse Event Reports for Drugs are approaching 500,000 annually

  • In 2008, the first year of mandatory reporting, the FDA received less than 1,000 Dietary Supplement AERs, fewer than anticipated

  • Mayo Clinic published a report on its patients, concluding that a small number of prescription meds and a small number of DS accounted for most of the drug-nutrient interactions with no serious interactions and reporting that “the actual potential for harm was low.”

  • The American Association of Poison Control Centers’ latest annual report listed zero deaths from DS [Dietary Supplements] in 2008, the most recent year reported

  • Another toxicology journal report on a one-year poison center surveillance project concluded that “most supplement-related adverse events were minor” and the most problematic were caffeine and products containing the herb yohimbe

  • Bias: a peer-reviewed study reported that increased pharmaceutical advertising is associated with scientific journals publishing fewer articles about DS and publishing more articles with conclusions that DS are unsafe

          To read in


  Types of Vitamins


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Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed by the body, which doesn't store large amounts. The kidneys remove those vitamins that are not needed. Water-soluble vitamins must be taken into the body daily, as they cannot be stored and are excreted within four hours to one day. These include vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins. 

Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed into the body with the use of bile acids, which are fluids used to absorb fat. The body stores these for use as needed. Oil-soluble vitamins can be stored for longer periods of time in the body’s fatty tissue and the liver. These include vitamins A, D, E. and K.  The body for proper functioning needs both types of vitamins.

Taking supplements with meals helps to assure a supply of other nutrients needed for better assimilation as well. Unless specified otherwise, oil-soluble vitamins should be taken before meals, and water-soluble ones should be taken after meals. 



  How Are Vitamins Made?  

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All purchased vitamin supplements are made synthetically in laboratories. The only exception is vitamin B12, which is made "naturally" by bacteria - biosynthesized. The Vitamin-Mineral-Herb industry often promotes their vitamins as "natural". When these other vitamins are synthesized, they end up equally in two forms that are mirror images of each other - one is a d (dextra or right) and the other an l (levo or left) form. Only the l form is active in the body. The d form, the mirror image, does not have vitamin activity. These d forms, however, are not inactive in other ways in the body. In large amounts, they may have harmful effects such as increasing a nasty substance called pteroyl-glutamine acid in the body. Taking mega doses of any vitamin will give your body a large dose of this inactive d form of whatever vitamin you take. 


  Natural and Synthetic Vitamins

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Vitamin supplements can be divided into two groups: synthetic and natural.  Synthetic vitamins are vitamins produced in laboratories from isolated chemicals that mirror their counterparts found in nature.  Natural vitamins are derived from food sources.

A natural vitamin is a concentrated nutrient derived from a quality natural source, with no artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives. Natural vitamins contain co-factors that come with the nutrient in nature. For instance, some co-factors that are usually found with Vitamin C are various bioflavonoids. It is concentrated from its natural source as carefully as possible. No extreme heat, pressure, or possible toxic solvents are used to make the natural vitamins. There are no sugar or chemical tablet coatings. The nutrients are prepared from high quality raw ingredients, no artificial chemicals are added nor do harsh binders or fillers hinder absorption.

Synthetic vitamins are made in a laboratory through a chemical process, rather than from natural plants and materials. When the synthetic molecule is identical to the form derived from natural sources, both are indistinguishable from each other in all aspects, including their function and effects on the human body.

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Most vitamins in supplements are petroleum extracts, coal tar derivatives, and chemically processed sugar (plus sometimes industrially processed fish oils), with other acids and industrial chemicals (such as formaldehyde) used to process them [1-5]. Synthetic vitamins were originally developed because they cost less [7]. Assuming the non-food product does not contain fish oils, most synthetic, petroleum-derived, supplements will call their products ‘vegetarian’, not because they are from plants, but because they are not from animals. Most vitamins in vitamin supplements made from food are in foods such as acerola cherries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, lemons, limes, nutritional yeast, oranges, and rice bran (some companies also use animal products).


Synthetic Vitamins vs. Whole Food Supplements

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Another primary difference between real full-spectrum whole-food vitamins and synthetic vitamins is that real vitamins contain the essential trace minerals necessary for the vitamins’ synergistic operation. Synthetic vitamins contain no trace minerals and must utilize the body’s own mineral reserves. Ingesting real vitamins does not require the body to deplete its own reserves of nutrients to replace any nutrients missing from the false vitamin complex.

Mega doses of synthetic vitamins can have very serious toxic effects. Naturally-occurring whole-food vitamins are not toxic since the vitamin is complexed in its natural whole integral working form, and requires nothing from the body to “build” a vitamin. Naturally-occurring whole food vitamins are only necessary in small quantities on a daily basis...

A Molecular Difference:  "A synthetically-derived substance may cause a reaction in a chemically susceptible person when the same material of natural origin is tolerated, despite the two substances having identical chemical structures. The point is illustrated by the frequency of clinical reactions to synthetic vitamins - especially vitamin B1 and [vitamin] C when the [same] naturally-occurring vitamins are tolerated."

Certain studies on natural vs. synthetic vitamins have shown that synthetic vitamins are 50 to 70% less biologically active than natural vitamins.

Synthetic vitamins are actually just fractions of naturally occurring vitamins synthesized in the dextro- and levo- forms (known as "right" and "left handed" molecules) which form geometric mirror images of each other. It may seem strange, but the geometry of nutrient compounds is crucial for the bioavailability of the nutrient. The body uses only the levo- forms. Synthetic vitamin compounds have little of the correct geometry (levo-forms) of naturally occurring vitamins present in food and botanicals.

So, can a synthesized, isolated vitamin fraction made in the laboratory be called a real vitamin? Can it provide you with the nourishment that naturally-occurring, whole-food supplements can? The answer is a resounding and undeniable NO!

Synthetic Vitamins vs. NOS Supplements & Whole Food Supplements

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What is Naturally Occurring Supplements – (NOS)?   Naturally-occurring vitamins are obtained by taking a nutrient-rich plant, removing the water and the fibre in a chemical-free vacuum process, and packaging it for stability. The entire vitamin complex is captured intact, retaining its full-spectrum functional and nutritional integrity. The best vitamin supplements are those with labeled potencies derived from naturally occurring, full-spectrum food extracts.

The term “naturally-occurring” on a label means that a vitamin or nutrient is completely comprised of compounds from naturally-occurring sources – the plants themselves – rather than merely containing a naturally-occurring ingredient mixed with synthetic ingredients.

Putting the word “Natural” on the vitamin label is deceptive. The word is constantly abused and as such it’s meaning has been diluted to a point where it holds little value. Many misleading labels on supplement products take advantage of the ambiguity of the word “natural” to project a wholesome marketing image – most often when the product does not merit it. - NOS Research Paper. PDF

Because of the mass marketing of synthetic vitamins as “natural” or the equivalent of real, natural vitamins over the last 70 years the general public has become confused about real, natural vitamins as opposed to those that are synthetic. The significant difference between real, natural vitamins and nutrients, as made by nature and man-made synthetic vitamins and nutrients can be the difference between healthy nutrition and disease causing toxicity.

The knowledge of the distinction between natural and synthetic vitamins and nutrients, although recognized by certain leading persons and organizations in the food industry, seems to be missing from the general public domain and therefore this knowledge needs to be brought forward in a broad public manner and disseminated in an organized program of public awareness and education.

Synthetic vitamins and nutrients have been shown to exhibit toxic effects when ingested. These toxic reactions are similar to some adverse drug reactions or “side effects” that are often associated with drugs, which are also synthetic chemical compounds. The adverse effects of large doses of synthetic vitamin E, synthetic carotene, synthetic vitamin D, synthetic vitamin C, and many other synthetic nutrients is well known.

The fact that there is a distinction between synthetic vitamins and nutrients and “natural” or naturally occurring vitamins and nutrients is accepted and recognized by various institutions and organizations and also by certain large commercial pharmaceutical corporations who manufacture synthetic vitamins and nutrients and who rightfully support the restriction of these substances in the same manner as drugs are restricted.

Today there are two main categories of vitamin supplements generally available commercially. They are as follows:

  1. Supplements containing chemical vitamins (such as USP man-made vitamins or nutrients) added to a natural base. This category is related to the direct addition of synthetic vitamins and nutrients to a product and represents a majority of the supplements and fortified foods available today.

  2. "Food Grown" or "Food Based" Supplements. In this category, product potencies are often derived by adding (spiking) chemical, synthetic vitamins and nutrients into a base such as yeast, algae, other bacteriums or a mixture of various materials and then using that artificially potentized (spiked) material base or a portion of that base for all or part of the labeled potency of the product. These labeled products may have a generally misleading label claim referring to the spiked base as the “food” source. (This category represents the indirect addition of synthetic vitamins and nutrients). The indirect addition of synthetic nutrients, in this case, is apparently for label claims of “Food Source” which can be legally made if the base that the synthetics are added to (spiked into or “grown” within such as yeast or other materials) is referred to as natural “food.”


  Whole Food Supplements

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Only whole food supplements complete the nutritional gap: Whole food supplements are made by concentrating foods for use in supplements. When processed correctly, they supply a multitude of the plant's components. Foods provide nutrients that work synergistically. They work together to provide you with optimal nutrition for good health.

What is the importance of whole food ingredients? Only whole food ingredients can provide you with all the nutrients contained within the food, rather than just isolated components…  

Whole food supplement  vitamins and nutrients are derived mainly from recognizable food sources.


Using Whole-Food Supplements in Clinical Nutrition

Reference - - All Rights Reserved, Dynamic Chiropractic.

A whole-food supplement is one comprised of foods (not extracts, but entire foods) that have been concentrated into supplemental form. Isolated supplements are singular (or groups of individual) vitamins, minerals and/or amino acids. Whole foods contain vitamins, but vitamins never contain the rest of the whole-food "complex.

Many biochemical researchers, nutritionists and herbalists have noted that without the whole-food complex, the body will never achieve whole nutrition, as vitamin supplements lack the rest of the complex. Richard Murray, DC, an avid biochemical researcher and lecturer for the past 30 years, taught that isolated vitamins eventually lead to biochemical imbalances and consequential nutritional deficiencies, as the body is forced to surrender its stores of nutrients in order to make any isolated vitamin work.

Whole foods are alive with enzyme activity, while isolated vitamins are not living substances in the least. Vitamins do not resemble foods, but they resemble parts of foods. It is the rest of the food complex - the other parts - in which proponents of whole foods are interested. Retired USDA botanist, James Duke, PhD, author of The Green Pharmacy, agrees: "Vitamins and phytochemicals are better taken in their evolutionary context - as they occur in plants - not isolated and out of context." Although it is true that isolated vitamin supplementation "works," we must define the word "work."


    Organic Food Supplements

What are the benefits of an organic health supplements?

1) These supplements have no synthetic or isolate ingredients.
2) They contain only complete whole food vitamins.
3) These supplements do not have any sea shell, rock or coral derived minerals.
4) Organic whole food vitamin supplements include homeopathic minerals.
5) They increase the intake of whole foods, such as seeds, nuts and grains.
6) They do not include any chemical, additive or synthetic ingredients.
7) They have a lacto-vegetarian formula.


  Develop a Vitamin Strategy

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It is important for consumers to have an overall strategy for how they will achieve adequate vitamin intakes. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises that nutrient needs be met primarily through consuming foods, with supplementation suggested for certain sensitive populations.

These guidelines, published by the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), provide science-based advice to promote health and to reduce risk for chronic diseases through diet and physical activity. They form the basis for federal food, nutrition education, and information programs.

Barbara Schneeman, Ph.D., Director of FDA's Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements, says, "The Guidelines emphasize that supplements may be useful when they fill a specific identified nutrient gap that cannot or is not otherwise being met by the individual's intake of food." She adds, "An important point made in the guidelines is that nutrient supplements are not a substitute for a healthful diet."

Risks of Overdoing It:  As is the case with all dietary supplements, the decision to use supplemental vitamins should not be taken lightly, says Vasilios Frankos, Ph.D., Director of FDA's Division of Dietary Supplement Programs.

"Vitamins are not dangerous unless you get too much of them," he says. "More is not necessarily better with supplements, especially if you take fat-soluble vitamins.” For some vitamins and minerals, the National Academy of Sciences has established upper limits of intake (ULs) that it recommends not be exceeded during any given day. For more information, visit

  • Don't decide to take dietary supplements to treat a health condition that you have diagnosed yourself, without consulting a health care provider.

  • Don't take supplements in place of, or in combination with, prescribed medications without your health care provider's approval.

  • Check with your health care provider about the supplements you take if you are scheduled to have any type of surgical procedure.

The term "natural" doesn't always mean safe. A supplement's safety depends on many things, such as its chemical makeup, how it works in the body, how it is prepared, and the dose used. Certain herbs (for example, comfrey and kava) can harm the liver.


   How Much Is too Much? - Institute of Food Technologists - © Institute of Food Technologists

Foods typically contain safe levels of vitamins, but dietary supplements that contain high levels of vitamins could be hazardous…Although excess water-soluble vitamins are usually excreted in urine, thus minimizing toxicity, adverse symptoms from consuming high doses of water- soluble nutrient supplements have been reported, including diarrhea from vitamin C (Levine et al., 1995) and peripheral neuropathy from vitamin B6 (Snodgrass, 1992).

Fat-soluble vitamins are more readily stored in the body than water-soluble ones, and therefore have the potential to be more dangerous. Vitamins E and K are considered relatively non-toxic; acute or chronic over-consumption of vitamins A and D, however, is hazardous. Vitamin A can cause spontaneous abortions and birth defects, especially at levels above 20,000 IU/day (NRC, 1989). A high vitamin D intake can cause hypercalcemia, leading to the deposition of calcium in soft tissues and serious damage to the heart and kidneys…

It is unlikely for one to consume toxic levels of minerals just from food, although selenium toxicity has been reported in China and other areas where high concentrations of selenium exist in soil and accumulate in plants. The human intestine has limited capacity to absorb mineral cations, thus the excessive consumption of one mineral can lead to impaired absorption of others. For example, a high iron intake inhibits the absorption of zinc, while an excessive intake of zinc hinders copper absorption…

As is the case with all dietary supplements, the decision to use supplemental vitamins should not be taken lightly, says Vasilios Frankos, Ph.D., Director of FDA's Division of Dietary Supplement Programs.

"Vitamins are not dangerous unless you get too much of them," he says. "More is not necessarily better with supplements, especially if you take fat-soluble vitamins.” For some vitamins and minerals, the National Academy of Sciences has established upper limits of intake (ULs) that it recommends not be exceeded during any given day.

Fat-soluble Vitamins

  • A (retinol, retinal, retinoic acid): Nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, clumsiness, birth defects, liver problems, possible risk of osteoporosis. You may be at greater risk of these effects if you drink high amounts of alcohol or you have liver problems, high cholesterol levels or don't get enough protein.

  • D (calciferol): Nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, weight loss, confusion, heart rhythm problems, deposits of calcium and phosphate in soft tissues.

If you take blood thinners, talk to your doctor before taking vitamin E or vitamin K pills.

Water-soluble Vitamins

  • B-3 (niacin): flushing, redness of the skin, upset stomach.

  • B-6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine): Nerve damage to the limbs, which may cause numbness, trouble walking, and pain.

  • C (ascorbic acid): Upset stomach, kidney stones, increased iron absorption.

  • Folic Acid (folate): High levels may, especially in older adults, hide signs of B-12 deficiency, a condition that can cause nerve damage.

The table below shows the maximum daily intake of key nutrients that the Institute of Medicine has determined is unlikely to pose a risk of adverse health effects. (The numbers apply to the general population, not to those who may need supplementation because of a medical condition.)


Recommended daily intake

Safe upper limit
(all sources)





Vitamin A

3,000 IU

2,300 IU

10,000 IU

Niacin (B3)

16 mg

14 mg

35 mg

Folate (folic acid)

400 mcg

400 mcg

1,000 mcg

Vitamin C

90 mg

75 mg

2,000 mg

Vitamin D

600 IU ages 19 to 70; 800 IU ages 71 and up

600 IU ages 19 to 70; 800 IU ages 71 and up


Vitamin E

22 IU (natural)
33 IU (synthetic)

22 IU (natural)
33 IU (synthetic)

1,500 IU (natural)
1,100 IU (synthetic)

Vitamin K

120 mcg

90 mcg

Not established







1,000 mg ages 19 to 70; 1,200 mg ages 70 and up

1,000 mg ages 19 to 50; 1,200 mg ages 51 and up

2,500 mg through age 50; 2,000 mg ages 51 and up


420 mg

320 mg

350 mg (from supplements only)


4,700 mg

4,700 mg

Not established


55 mcg

55 mcg

400 mcg


11 mg

8 mg

40 mg

Reference -

The table lists the Daily Values (DV1) based on a caloric intake of 2,000 calories, for adults and children four or more years of age. The nutrients in the table are listed in the order in which they are required to appear on a dietary supplement label. This list includes only those nutrients for which a DRV has been established.

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL2) is the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in the general population. The UL values listed above pertain to adult (≥ 19 y) men and women, excluding pregnant and/or lactating women. To view - Vitamin and Mineral Recommendations


Automatic Personalized DRI Nutrient Calculator - Interactive DRI

Daily nutrient recommendations are based on the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) by age and gender. Nutrient recommendations based on the DRIs are meant to be applied to generally healthy people of a specific age and gender set. Individual nutrient requirements may be higher or lower than the DRIs. Consult a healthcare professional to determine individual nutrient requirements for those with specific health or medical conditions.

Use this tool to calculate daily nutrient recommendations for dietary planning based on the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). These represent the most current scientific knowledge on nutrient needs, developed by the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine. Individual requirements may be higher or lower than the DRIs. Start Here


   Drug Interactions & Precautions

Reference - reports,

According to results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 52% of adults take dietary supplements.1 Supplement use is typically a safe and effective method of maintaining a healthy body; however, supplements have the potential to interact with prescribed medications. In this article, common drug interactions with vitamins and minerals are discussed, along with suggestions on how the pharmacist should manage these interactions. 

It is important for pharmacists to be able to identify patients who are most at risk. Risk factors for poor outcomes from drug interactions include use of multiple medications and/or supplements, older age, inadequate kidney or liver function, and the use of medications with narrow therapeutic indexes. Patients with these risk factors should be targeted for interventions to prevent drug interactions with vitamins and minerals.

Reference -

Supplements are most likely to cause side effects or harm when people take them instead of prescribed medicines or when people take many supplements in combination. Some supplements can increase the risk of bleeding or, if a person takes them before or after surgery, they can affect the person's response to anesthesia. Dietary supplements can also interact with certain prescription drugs in ways that might cause problems. Here are just a few examples:

  • Vitamin K can reduce the ability of the blood thinner Coumadin® to prevent blood from clotting.
  • St. John's wort can speed the breakdown of many drugs (including antidepressants and birth control pills) and thereby reduce these drugs' effectiveness.
  • Antioxidant supplements, like vitamins C and E, might reduce the effectiveness of some types of cancer chemotherapy.

This checker will find interactions between DRUGS and NATURAL MEDICINES including each ingredient of brand name products. It will NOT find drug-drug interactions. Discuss with your physician prior to making clinical decisions.


    Safety and Risks

Reference -

Many supplements contain active ingredients that can have strong effects in the body. Always be alert to the possibility of unexpected side effects, especially when taking a new product.

Keep in mind that some ingredients found in dietary supplements are added to a growing number of foods, including breakfast cereals and beverages. As a result, you may be getting more of these ingredients than you think, and more might not be better. Taking more than you need is always more expensive and can also raise your risk of experiencing side effects. For example, getting too much vitamin A can cause headaches and liver damage, reduce bone strength, and cause birth defects. Excess iron causes nausea and vomiting and may damage the liver and other organs.

Be cautious about taking dietary supplements if you are pregnant or nursing. Also, be careful about giving them (beyond a basic multivitamin/mineral product) to a child. Most dietary supplements have not been well tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children.

If you suspect that you have had a serious reaction from a dietary supplement, let your health care provider know. He or she may report your experience to the FDA. You may also submit a report to the FDA by calling 800-FDA-1088 or completing a form online. In addition, report your reaction to the dietary supplement company by using the contact information on the product label.

Link to Weight Loss Tainted Products for additional information


   What Questions Should You Ask?

Reference -

How can you tell which supplements are effective and right for you? Here are some recommendations on what you should know before you buy:

  • Could the supplement interact negatively with one or more of your prescription medications? Because some vitamins and herbs interact negatively with drugs, it's important to inform your doctor about all supplements you're taking, says Augsburger, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. For example, the FDA issued a warning that St. John's wort decreases the effectiveness of HIV drugs such as indinavir.

  • Could the supplement affect you during or after surgery? Some supplements can affect how fast or slow your blood clots, your heart rate or blood pressure and other factors that could be vital if you are going to have surgery. Tell your doctor about the vitamins, minerals, herbals or any other supplements you are taking.

  • Are the potentially beneficial ingredients easily absorbed into your body? If pills are not formulated properly or are compressed too tightly during the manufacturing process, your body may excrete them before they dissolve, Augsburger says. Augsburger cited a recent study showing that two of nine commercial products containing melatonin (a sleep aid) did not disintegrate after more than 20 hours.

  • Do you really need to take this supplement? Ask yourself why you want to take a supplement and whether you need it if you can get the same nutrients from the foods you eat, says Stephen Barrett, a retired psychiatrist and board member of the National Council Against Health Fraud and founder of "There's a certain amount of gambling involved in terms of whether the product might be useful or whether it's even in the bottle," says Barrett.

  • Has this supplement been scientifically tested? Do some research to find if the product has been tested on human subjects. Make sure the references you read are from professional journals like The New England Journal of Medicine.

Before taking a dietary supplement, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the potential health benefits of this dietary supplement product?

  • What are its potential benefits for me?

  • Does this product have any safety risks?

  • What is the proper dose to take?

  • How, when, and for how long should I take it?

Other important concerns:

  • When you shop for supplements, look for USP or NF on the package label. 
  • If you are shopping for a botanical, make sure to find a product that uses only the effective part of the plant. Avoid botanicals that have been made using the entire plant, unless the entire plant is recommended. 
  • Remember that a product described as "natural" is not necessarily safer or more effective. 
  • Consider the name and reputation of the manufacturer or distributor. Is it a nationally known name? Large companies with a reputation to uphold are more likely to manufacture their products under strict, quality-controlled conditions. 
  • Does the label provide a way to contact the company if you have questions or concerns about their product? Reputable manufacturers will provide contact information on the label or packaging of their products. 
  • Contact the manufacturer and ask about their quality control procedures and manufacturing processes. 
  • Try to avoid mixtures of many different supplements. The more ingredients, the greater the chances of harmful effects. 
  • Avoid supplements priced significantly lower than similar products; they are likely to be of lower quality. 
  • Avoid products that claim to be "miracle cures," "breakthroughs," or "new discoveries," to have benefits but no side effects, or to be based on a "secret ingredient" or method. Such claims are almost always fraudulent, and the product may contain potentially harmful substances or contaminants. 
  • Avoid products that claim to be effective treatment for a wide variety of unrelated illnesses. If a supplement claims that it can diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease, such as "cures cancer," the product is being sold illegally as a drug.  
  • Avoid products that claim to be safe or effective based solely on testimonials.

Join to find out which brands of supplements they have tested.

  • Read the label on the bottles. Ingredients for the supplements should be from organic sources whenever possible.
  • Dietary Supplements should be tested for toxic substances and any kind of contamination such as lead or mercury.
  • Look for hypoallergenic products if you have sensitivity problems. Avoid wheat, yeast and corn.
  • Look for an expiration date and make sure the product is fresh. If there is no expiration date on the label, buy something else.
  • You may also check with the store to see if they are sure of the supplements' quality.
If you have questions about a certain brand, don't be afraid to look up their contact information, call them and ask about the points above. Reputable supplement labs will have answers and documentation available for all your questions. Keep in mind that some of the highest quality products are only available through health care providers.


“Personalized Nutrition” - Nutrigenomics

Reference -

Science and the Wisdom of Nature can match your nutrition to your unique biochemistry: Now we have the answer in your BioType™. Over the last 20 years Signature Supplements'™ team of doctors, scientists and nutritionists have been expanding the original discoveries of Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, Dr. William Walsh, and Dr. Roger Williams who pioneered the innovative field of individualized nutrition. Now we are able to identify your individualized nutritional BioType™ and match it with a specific nutritional program of supplements and foods that are determined by assessing the needs of your uniquely inherent biochemistry.

We test the biochemical systems that affect your mind, body, emotions, energy and overall health and well-being. Specifically, we offer five tests in one; glucose control, neurotransmitter production, histamine levels, nutrient absorption, and oxidative stress, (heavy metals). These fundamental systems affect your day-to-day activities as well as your thoughts, feelings, behaviors and long term health. Completing our clinically developed questionnaire, allows our doctors to determine whether your expressed symptoms correlate to specific biochemical imbalances.

We compare your cluster of symptoms to over 20,000 clients who have listed the same group of symptoms and have also undergone over 100 blood, urine and tissue analysis. Locating the match of your BioType™ with a subgroup in our database enables us to extrapolate your unique biochemical profile with 99% surety. In order to rebalance these underlying biochemical functions, our doctors create an individualized nutritional program for you

Reference -

Food Advisor Helps You Find the Foods That Are Right For You:  Questionnaire will help analyze your nutritional status and provide you with information regarding the nutrients, which may be found deficient in your diet as well as recommendations for which foods and recipes will help, fulfill your nutritional needs. The Food Advisor can give you a personalized set of food recommendations from a short questionnaire and move you along your way to a healthier meal plan!

Link to Nutritional Therapy - Personalized Nutrition


Labeling Requirements

Reference - - Copyright  Natural Products Foundation

Like foods, dietary supplements are required to carry ingredient labeling. This information must include the name and the net quantity of contents on the principle display panel. The label must also list all ingredients that do not appear in the supplement facts information panel in the order of their amount in the product.

But unlike foods, the law spells out a number of labeling requirements for dietary supplements that are unique. Specifically, these rules call for:

Inclusion of the term "dietary supplement" (or similar terms such as "herbal supplement") as part of the statement of identity.
Stating the quantity of each dietary ingredient or for combination products, the total quantity of all dietary ingredients in the blend.

Most importantly for consumers, the new law requires that dietary supplements provide nutritional labeling. This labeling, called a "Supplement Facts" information panel, lists the amount of calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The Supplement Facts panel must also include the quantity per serving for each dietary ingredient (or blend) and may describe the source of a dietary ingredient (for example, "calcium from Calcium gluconate").


Regulating Health Benefit Claims

Reference -

To help consumers make informed decisions about using dietary supplements, the law sets out very stringent requirements for when manufacturers can make claims about the health benefits of their products. Based upon DSHEA and specific food labeling laws, FDA has issued regulations that allow dietary supplement manufacturers to make three types of claims: 1) nutrient-content claims, 2) health claims, and 3) structure-function claims.

With nutrient-content claims, the regulations are straightforward: based on FDA's requirements, when a supplement contains a high enough level of a nutrient, the product can carry a claim such as "high in calcium" or "an excellent source of vitamin C." FDA also authorizes health-related claims for foods and dietary supplements when there is a documented link between a food/dietary supplement and a health-related condition. Here, FDA has by regulation established approved health-related claims based on a review of the scientific evidence for significant scientific agreement, or based upon an authoritative statement from a scientific body like the National Academy of Sciences. The following six claims apply to dietary supplements:

  • Folic acid and a decreased risk of birth defects

  • Calcium and a lower risk of osteoporosis

  • Potassium and the reduced risk of high blood pressure and stroke

  • Psyllium seed husk (as part of a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat) and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease

  • Soy protein and the reduced risk of coronary heart disease

  • Plant sterol/stanol esters and the reduced risk of coronary heart disease

Finally, the law allows information describing the supplement's effect on the body's structure or function, such as Vitamin E supports a healthy heart, or fiber maintains bowel regularity. To use these claims, manufacturers must have scientific data to substantiate the statement and the product label must bear this notice: "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." In addition, FDA requires marketers to inform the agency of the use of the claim no later than 30 days after the product is first marketed and to certify that they can substantiate the claim, if challenged. Knowingly filing a false certification is a crime.


   Understanding Supplement Labels

The DSLD contains the full label contents from a sample of dietary supplement products marketed in the U.S. The Dietary Supplements Labels Database offers information about ingredients in more than two thousand selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to determine what ingredients are in specific brands and to compare ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the health benefits claimed by manufacturers.

The Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD) is a joint project of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and National Library of Medicine (NLM).

The DSLD contains the full label contents from all of the dietary supplement products marketed in the U.S. with a Web-based user interface that provides ready access to the data;

  • Search by Product – or -

  • By Dietary Supplement Ingredient


    Buyer Beware

Reference - - American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). Copyright

The vast majority of dietary supplement products fully comply with applicable laws and are properly sold to consumers. However, some unscrupulous companies have threatened consumer confidence by selling tainted products that contain undeclared prescription drugs and other chemicals. Since 2008, FDA has identified nearly 400 such products. These unlawful ingredients have been found in capsules, tablets, powders, teas, and coffees. While these tainted products represent a tiny minority of all dietary supplements sold, it is important that consumers have confidence when buying their products from reputable companies.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration called attention to this problem with the following statement:

FDA has identified an emerging trend where over-the-counter products, frequently represented as dietary supplements, contain hidden active ingredients that could be harmful. Consumers may unknowingly take products laced with varying quantities of approved prescription drug ingredients, controlled substances, and untested and unstudied pharmaceutically active ingredients. These deceptive products can harm you! Hidden ingredients are increasingly becoming a problem in products promoted for weight loss.


  Selecting Quality Supplements

Consumers need to understand that when purchasing supplements, what they think they are buying may not be what they are getting.  You may pay slightly more for supplements from your health care provider, but you will know you are getting the top of the line, and when it comes to your health, that is what is most important.

Retrieved from -

There is only one sure way of buying the highest quality nutritional and herbal supplements: do the research and find a manufacturer that provides a comprehensive scientific evaluation of every raw material it uses, operates GMP-certified manufacturing facilities, performs human clinical evaluations to document predicted safety and efficacy and has a scientific staff and facilities to achieve true quality.

Raw Materials – The Starting Point: Ingredient selection makes the biggest difference in quality of the final product. Without quality ingredients, event the best scientific formula won’t live up to its health-promoting benefits. There are significant quality differences in individual ingredients, and bargain nutritional supplements are often made with low-cost and low-quality ingredients.

Safety and/or effectiveness may be at risk with cheaper ingredients. Low cost suppliers often don’t spend the time or money to conduct adequate literature reviews for safety, or devote qualified professionals to review this literature. Cutting corners on safety can have long-reaching effects on your health – and that’s a cost no one can afford.

How do you verify the quality of ingredients? An advanced scientific staff and sophisticated research facilities are required to identify the quality difference, which requires a hi-tech laboratory for comprehensive scientific evaluation. All the products we carry have devoted the resources to facilitate such testing.

   Quality Standards

Dietary supplements are complex products. The FDA has established quality standards for dietary supplements to help ensure their identity, purity, strength, and composition. These standards are designed to prevent the inclusion of the wrong ingredient, the addition of too much or too little of an ingredient, the possibility of contamination, and the improper packaging and labeling of a product. The FDA periodically inspects facilities that manufacture dietary supplements.

In addition, several independent organizations offer quality testing and allow products that pass these tests to display their seals of approval. These seals of approval provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants. These seals of approval do not guarantee that a product is safe or effective. Organizations that offer this quality testing include:

·         U.S. Pharmacopeia


·         NSF International

Reference -, LLC ("CL") is the leading provider of independent test results and information to help consumers and healthcare professionals identify the best quality health and nutrition products. It publishes results of its tests in comprehensive reports at

CL also conducts an annual Survey of Vitamin & Supplement Users. CL’s research is cited frequently by the media, in books, and at professional meetings. In addition to the products it selects to review, CL enables companies of all sizes to have their products quality tested for potential inclusion in its list of Approved Quality products and bear the CL Seal. Since its founding in 1999, CL has tested more than 3,400 products, representing over 450 different brands and nearly every type of popular supplement for adults, children, and pets. Copyright  The United States Pharmacopeial Convention

The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) is an official public standard–setting authority for all prescription and over–the–counter medicines and other health care products manufactured or sold in the United States. USP also sets widely recognized standards for food ingredients and dietary supplements.

  • Look for 'USP' on the label. Graphic of USP verified MarkThis ensures that the supplement meets the standards for strength, purity, disintegration and dissolution established by the testing organization U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).
  • Look for expiration dates. Dietary supplements can lose potency over time, especially in hot and humid climates. If a supplement doesn't have an expiration date, don't buy it. If your supplements have expired, discard them.
  • For USP Certified Nutrients please see links below.  

What the USP Verified Mark Means on a Supplement Label Graphic of USP verified Mark

The distinctive USP Verified Dietary Supplement Mark is awarded to finished dietary supplements that pass USP's comprehensive verification processes. Manufacturers can display the mark on the label of USP Verified products. The mark represents that USP has rigorously tested and verified the supplement to assure the following:

  • What's on the label is in fact in the bottle—all the listed ingredients in the declared amount.

  • The supplement does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

  • The supplement will break down and release ingredients in the body

  • The supplement has been made under good manufacturing practices.

USP is an independent, not-for-profit organization. No other organization in the U.S. that tests supplements is recognized in federal law as the nation's official standard-setting body for medicines and supplements. USP standards are enforceable by the FDA.

The importance of USP Verified Dietary Supplements:

  • Integrity  - Tests based on USP standards have shown that contents of many supplements sold in retail stores don't match the label and that some supplements contain significantly less or more than the claimed amount of key ingredients. There may be a serious health risk when supplements taken to prevent a specific health problem do not contain ingredients in appropriate quantities. You must be sure of the identity and amount of ingredients in your supplements if you want to be sure you're getting value for your money.
  • Purity  - Some supplements may contain lead, mercury, other heavy metals, pesticides, bacteria, molds, toxins, or other potentially harmful contaminants. You must be sure these contaminants are not present at levels that can cause health problems.
  • Dissolution - If a supplement does not break down properly to allow its ingredients to dissolve in the body, it means you won't get the full benefit of its contents. It's important for you to know that the supplement has been tested against recognized standards, as the USP Verified Mark indicates.
  • Safe manufacturing - Assurance of safe, sanitary,  well-controlled,  and well-documented manufacturing and monitoring processes is proof that the supplement manufacturer is quality-conscious and concerned for your well-being. 


Buying Certified Supplements

Reference - www.CRN - The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)


To ensure the quality of your supplemental products CRN was founded in 1973, which is a Washington-based trade association representing ingredient suppliers and manufacturers in the dietary supplement industry.

CRN members adhere to a strong code of ethics, comply with dosage limits and manufacture dietary supplements to high quality standards and under good manufacturing practices. CRN's mission is to enhance and sustain a climate for our member companies to responsibly market dietary supplements and their ingredients by maintaining and improving confidence among consumers, media, government leaders, regulators, healthcare professionals and other decision makers with respect to our members’ products. View CRN member companies - www.CRN


View Companies Participating in the USP Verified Program for Dietary Supplements

GMP sealGMP- Certified Manufacturing: Good manufacturing practices (GMP) certification of a manufacturing plant is an excellent marker of quality. GMP certification is not free – in fact, it’s very expensive to implement, which is why most nutritional supplement manufacturers are not officially GMP-certified. GMP-certification insures the highest quality manufacturing to bring you the highest quality products. Click here to see a listing of GMP Certified Companies. - Natural Products Association

NPA was the first organization to offer a third-party GMP certification program for the manufacturing of dietary supplements and dietary ingredients. NPA established its GMP standards for dietary supplements in 1999 and updated the standard in 2000. At the time of publication, these GMP standards represented the industry's best practices and served as the basis of the NPA GMP Certification Program.

In June 2007, the FDA published the final GMP regulation specific to dietary supplements (21 CFR 111). In order to keep the NPA GMP Certification Program relevant and reflect the highest level of industry good manufacturing practices, the NPA GMP Standard has been revised to include all of the FDA GMP requirements of 21 CFR Part 111 and retains certain requirements from the 2000 version of the NPA GMP Standard that exceed requirements of the FDA GMPs, or reflect best industry practices, and/or are necessary for the evaluation of compliance to the NPA GMP standard. NPA GMP Certification is awarded to companies that meet a high level of compliance to the NPA GMP Standard as verified through comprehensive third-party inspections of facilities and GMP-related documentation.

The Natural Certification Program and Seal of Approval

Under this program, products must follow strict guidelines set out by NPA to merit the seal. The criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • Product must be made up of at least 95 percent truly natural ingredients or ingredients that are derived from natural sources, excluding water

  •  No ingredients with any suspected human health risks

  •  No processes that significantly or adversely alter the natural ingredients

  •  Ingredients that come from a purposeful, natural source (flora, fauna, mineral)

  • Processes that are minimal and don't use synthetic/harsh chemicals

  • Non-natural ingredients only when no viable natural alternative ingredient are available and only when there are absolutely no suspected potential human health risks - Natural

(Subscription Required) Provides the world's largest collection of brand name dietary supplements along with scientific data on each ingredient. The Database is continuously updated with new data added daily.

Through a separate collaboration with Consumer Reports, the natural medicine ratings from Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database CONSUMER Version are provided to consumers who use  (Subscription Required)


Professional, Pharmaceutical Grade or OTC (Over the Counter)

Retrieved from -

Why Supplement Quality Matters - Ingredient selection makes the biggest difference in quality of the final product. Without quality ingredients, even the best scientific formula won't live up to its health-promoting benefits. There are significant quality differences in individual ingredients, and bargain nutritional supplements are often made with low-cost and low-quality ingredients.

Retrieved from - - Health & Wellness Institute

Why professional or pharmaceutical grade? Pharmaceutical grade supplements are specifically designed to have a profound effect on one’s health.  For this reason, they are typically sold through physicians, pharmacists and nutritionists. Pharmaceutical grade is the highest quality grade vitamin, meaning purity, dissolution, and absorption meet the highest regulatory standards verified by third party testing.  Optimal health requires optimal nutrition!

Reference - Chiropractic Economics ©


Is There a Difference in OTC (Over The Counter) Supplements? "It's not really a question of physician-grade vs. OTC; rather it's about substituting fake vs. real nutrition," says Richard Drucker of Drucker Labs. "Many OTC supplements use synthetic chemical nutrients (as opposed to natural and organic sources) because they are much cheaper to manufacture, and putting a vitamin into a mega-drugstore is all about profit margins."

Matthew Armstrong of A.C. Grace Company says it comes down to quality. Armstrong believes raw materials have to be checked and double-checked, and companies have to perform independent assays to verify potency, among other things.

Physician-grade supplements, according to Wilson, are formulated with a specific result in mind. They are not intended for a person to use over the counter, as they often have very high amounts of particular actives to help the doctor manage a case. "These products are designed to be part of a protocol," Wilson says. "Consumer products are designed for maximum sales and profit impact."

Why Are Physician-Grade Supplements Better?

The term "physician grade" refers to professional market supplements available only to and marketed exclusively to doctors…

"When companies provide products to a doctor, they know the results will be monitored. If the product does not do what it should, the doctor stops using it," says Allan Wilson of Anabolic Laboratories. "That feedback loop does not exist only in the consumer market, and also acts as a quality gauge. To survive in the 'physician only' market, a supplement company must provide products that yield consistent results."

“Physician Grade” Supplements

The best option for consumers is to purchase “Physician Grade” supplements.  These are supplements available only to and marketed exclusively to health care providers.  They hold themselves to higher standards, and therefore have better results.  This is important, because when companies provide products to a health care provider, they know the results will be monitored.  If the supplement doesn’t do what it should, the provider will stop recommending it to his patients. 

These companies also have better educational tools for the doctor, including trained and qualified employees to answer any questions.  They have Ph.D. scientists and pharmacologists researching and developing their products.  These companies also do individual assays on every lot, instead of just spot checks to make sure their products meet label-claims.  Health care providers often insist on seeing the test results before deciding to recommend the product to their patients.  Their products are formulated with a specific result in mind, and are designed to be part of a health care protocol.  Over-the-counter supplements, on the other hand, are designed for maximum sales and profit. 

Reference - -  ©  National Integrated Health Associates

Physician grade products must yield consistent results and as such are held to a higher standard in manufacturing, quality control, testing and continued monitoring. Additionally, companies provide educational tools to the doctor and train their employees in order to field any questions or concerns regarding the supplement.

The manufacturers know that doctors will likely stop using the products that do not perform consistently. In an Integrative medical health practice like NIHA the doctors are carefully listening to and monitoring patients’ reactions to specific products and this feedback may be shared at a weekly doctor/practitioner meeting where any pertinent supplement questions, issues and protocols are discussed, in order to improve the treatment outcome for the patient.

Reference - - Health & Wellness Institute of Integrative Medicine and Cancer Research

Pharmaceutical grade supplements are specifically designed to have a profound effect on one’s health.  For this reason, they are typically sold through physicians, pharmacists and nutritionists. Pharmaceutical grade is the highest quality grade vitamin, meaning purity, dissolution, and absorption meets the highest regulatory standards verified by third party testing.  Optimal health requires optimal nutrition!


  Dietary Supplement Treatment Approach

Reference -, Copyright ©  Beyond Organic. All Rights Reserved.

It’s difficult to get all of our nutritional needs in food alone. Taking supplements can be beneficial, whether it's for a medical condition or to help us meet our dietary requirements. They typically have less, if any, side effects in comparison to pharmaceutical drugs.

But if you do decide to go this route, it's very important to research the supplements you plan on taking. Understand its benefits and disadvantages; its efficacy; contraindications; recommended dosage based on your sex, age, and weight. Brands are made of varying quality, so look at how it's manufactured if available. Consider the source of your research articles - are they written by a reputable source? Are the studies supporting its efficacy well-designed, or is there a marketing bias to the article?

Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so you must accept this risk and do your research if you're considering adding it to your diet. However, it can also be very rewarding. Just remember to not take too many supplements in relation to regular food and to take as directed. For those whose stomach's are especially sensitive to supplements, this could be a sign that you are using a synthetic form of the nutrient that doesn't agree with you or you don't have enough healthy bacteria in your digestive system. Taking probiotics either through food sources or as a supplement for 2 weeks prior to other supplementation can help in this case.

For herbal supplements, make sure you understand which part of the plant contains the key ingredient that provides the purported health benefits. It may be the root, leaves, or another specific part of the plant. Cheap supplements will often contain parts of the plant which provide diminished benefits. Understand what the active ingredient is, the supplement's potency, and the amount that each dose contains. Supplements with "super critical extracts" are of the highest potency, and therefore require less than other supplements. The higher quality supplements will usually provide this level of detail in the nutritional label and will also be pure with few additional ingredients. Gaia is 1 high quality brand to look for.

When you have a choice between buying pills in a smaller or larger dosage, it’s usually best to go with the smaller dosage that you can take more frequently over the course of the day (also known as divided doses). This increases the absorption level and gives your body a steady supply of the supplement. Along those same lines, avoid mega dosing. Some people take large doses of certain vitamins like C, but it's harmful and should be avoided. There are studies that show a high intake of vitamin C (specifically, somewhere over 2000 mg from a synthetic source) can cause atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. The best thing to do is set a dietary goal of meeting the Adequate Intake (AI) level without exceeding the tolerable Upper Intake (UI) unless otherwise indicated by a doctor (see Nutrient Calculator).

Remember to take your multi-vitamins or any other supplements containing vitamins A, D, E, and K with some food that has a small amount of fat. These vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they dissolve with fat.


Guide to Vitamins and Mineral Therapy By Condition

Link to Remedy Treatments


On-line Products

Link to Listings of On-line Professional Grade Supplement Sites

Link to Listings of On-line Whole Food Supplements

Link to Listings of On-line Quality Discounted Dietary Supplements


Dietary Supplements Safety Alerts

Dietary Supplements Consumer Alerts


Report Complaints

How to Report an Adverse Event or Serious Problem