Raw Ingredients in Dietary Supplements

October 2010, Warren Matthews

Summary

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, many manufacturers are still not even doing identity tests, let alone assays for their raw ingredients. All manufacturers supplying dietary supplements for sale in the USA should be carrying out both ID tests, and/or assay tests, or, have validated their supplier of raw ingredient by auditing their premises.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, many manufacturers are still not even doing identity tests, let alone assays for their raw ingredients.

All manufacturers supplying dietary supplements for sale in the USA should be carrying out both ID tests, and/or assay tests, or, have validated their supplier of raw ingredient by auditing their premises.

Why is testing so important?

Well there are many reasons... here are some of them.

  1. Many ingredients look the same and without an ID test, sole reliance has to be made on the COA (certificate of analysis). It is not uncommon for some suppliers to adulterate the raw ingredient to make it go further, or to substitute a cheaper ingredient. So, an ID is the bare minimum test.
  2. Another bare minimum test is for micro’s and heavy metals. Sometimes mould can grow during shipping with the presence of moisture. So, whereas the material may have been OK when it left the factory the bacteria started to form in transit. It is critical that this is tested before use as it could contaminant the rest of the ingredients that it is mixed with. Heavy metals are sometimes present because of the way in which the raw ingredient is manufactured. We have all heard of instances in which a dietary supplement has been found to have a high level of lead. That would never happen if this basic test was performed.
  3. An assay test. This is a test which establishes the amount of the active component in an ingredient. For example, a grape seed extract may have 95% Proanthocyanidins. If this is the main active then the ingredient should be tested for this. Sometimes it may fall well short in which case the ingredient should be rejected and not used.

The above is the MINIMUM testing that should be done... sadly some or all of these tests are not done by many manufacturers. All ingredients should be in quarantine until the tests are complete and the ingredient passes.

Over the next month or so I will try and get the time to put together a video which explains by using our facility as an example what should be done. All this testing is not a simple job. We use 250 individual ingredients and we have to use labs all around the world for different tests. A large number of these are carried out by specialist labs in the US such as Alkemists.

But, even these tests do not tell the full story about the quality of an ingredient. For example, you can take a grape seed extract and test it for its active... say Proanthocyanidins and it passes... BUT... it may be quite ineffective! Why? Because of the extraction method which may destroy the anti-oxidant capabilities. As an example, we now use a grape seed extract which has the same spec's as an earlier one we used (which was better than the normal industry standard)... BUT, the new one has FOUR TIMES the anti-oxidant performance because of the extraction method used.

It is double the price... but, still worth it.

For those readers who are interested we will explain more about this in future posts.

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