There’s no doubt that when you’re shopping for health supplements you’ll be faced with an overwhelming array of options. The first thing you’ll encounter is the packaging. It can be bold and bright and glitzy and create a real sense of expectation for what is inside of the bottle. Or it can be more subdued, perhaps in the form of an olde worlde pharmacy, often with amber colored bottles and apothecary style labeling.
Then of course you’ll examine the ingredients themselves – what’s in the darn pills and is there something inside that shouldn’t be? Then the form of the pill – is it a capsule, a tablet, a softgel or even a water soluble powder. Then perhaps the milligram ingredients of each capsule and each individual ingredient. Then the serving size, two capsules daily…maybe four. And eventually you’ll find yourself looking at the price in relation to the serving size and the number of capsules per bottle, to calculate your monthly cost.
With so many variables it’s almost impossible to make a sensible comparison between two competing brands of vitamin supplements.
We suggest however that you readjust your priorities when it comes to examining label details, and make this your first consideration – ‘Made In The USA’. It isn’t just for patriotic reasons either, although supporting US based businesses is rarely a bad idea (unless they’re called ‘Monsanto’).
Here are what we consider to be the top 3 reasons for buying health supplements and other health related products which are made in the USA –
1 – Manufacturing Integrity and Regulatory Controls
You can just make vitamin supplements in the USA and sell them to the public – you can in other countries, even when the buying public is located in the USA.
To manufacture vitamin supplements in the USA you need to be FDA licensed and regulated. You’ll need to operate from a specialized facility and conduct your business in accordance with eGMP guidelines. This alone is sufficient enough to provide a layer of integrity ensuring the end product is made safely and in accordance with good food/pharmaceutical handling practices.
There are very specific requirements relating to raw material testing along with final formulation testing to ensure potency, freedom from harmful bacteria such as eColi and to ensure the the amounts shown on the label are present in the actual pills.
2 – Regulatory Integrity – Labeling
You can’t make unsubstantiated product claims on labels in the USA, as they’re scrutinized by the FDA and FTC. The way in which you present your label is carefully regulated and scrutinized so as not to mislead the consumer and not to suggest something is achievable by use of the product, which isn’t.
3 – It’s as much about what isn’t in the product as what is.
This really falls under the auspices of 1 & 2 above, but oftentimes imported products can contain ingredients which are not shown on the label. These can be deliberately added by the manufacturer for one of several reasons. For example, it can be an ingredient which might be prohibited here in the USA but is required to meet the product’s performance claims. Or it might be some additive or filler which is considered harmful or undesirable in the US. Or, it might be something which finds its way into the product as an unintended consequence of where the product is made. It could be peanut oil, soy, or some other potentially harmful substance to people with specific food intolerances.
But aren’t imported products regulated the same as those made here in the USA?
You might think that imported products come under the same level of scrutiny as USA made products, unfortunately you would be wrong. A facility overseas must comply with its own local standards and requirements, which generally fall way short of those required here in the USA. Once the product has been made it can be imported with few restrictions and sold freely in the USA. At no point are any tests conducted on an imported product here in the US, unless there are a number of reported complaints. At which point the FDA may step in to look more closely at a product, but generally by the time this happens the damage is done. It’s entirely retroactive.
If you’re reading this article on our website then your area of interest is likely to be products from the beehive, as that’s what we specialize in at The Natural Shopper (Royal jelly – bee pollen – propolis – honey). Handling and processing bee products is considerably more difficult than many other standardized herbs, as the products have a high moisture content. Royal Jelly is 67% water, propolis contains a high water content, as does honey. Substances with a high water content are susceptible to contamination (the formation of harmful bacteria) when exposed to air, which is why there’s a critical process required for handling royal jelly and the other bee products after removal from the hive.
These are process which need to be managed and controlled in facilities equipped to do so. It’s easy to dehydrate royal jelly with heat, a process used widely in the food industry along with pasteurization, but the nutritional integrity of the product is harmed when it is exposed to high heat. All of these manufacturing steps need to be conducted in a regulated facility. When complete, the finished product needs to be lab-tested independently from manufacturing. You cannot guarantee that all of this has been done to a high standard when the product has been imported, therefore you cannot trust the integrity of the finished product.
Buy USA Made Products, it’s the safest and healthiest way!