Natural Supplements and Processing Integrity.
Natural supplements have been getting a bad reputation of late, and it’s hardly surprising in many respects. There are too many manufacturers and raw ingredient processors fighting over a share of the supplement market, and many are taking on projects that they’re ill-equipped to handle.
Certain types of products require very specific manufacturing techniques in order to produce a quality supplement with its nutritional integrity intact.
Take bee products as an example. There are 4 main substances extracted from the beehive which find themselves commonly used in the natural supplement industry – bee pollen, honey, royal jelly and propolis.
Each of these substances needs to be processed in a specific way to retain the potency and integrity of their nutrients. Of the 4, royal jelly is the most difficult to process. It must be ‘locked-down’ within an hour or two of being removed from the hive. This locking down can be accomplished by freezing, which is always a temporary measure, by adding some form of preservative to the liquid, or by removing its water content.
The latter is the favored method by most processors, but it’s also one requiring specialist methods and practices. The common method for water extraction from liquids involves heat to create evaporation. With certain products and food stuffs this is quite acceptable, but in the case of royal jelly, it will have the affect of neutralizing many of its health benefits. The correct procedure is termed ‘lyophilization’, a cold-air treatment which removes moisture content without harming the nutrients.
Likewise, propolis is a substance which requires a very specific method of extraction. Normally the propolis solids are suspended in a food grade alcohol solvent to separate the particles of plant matter and other debris from the active ingredient. There are many ways in which this process can be performed detrimentally to the integrity of the finished product. [Here’s a link to information on bee product quality along with price considerations]
Aside from bee products, other herbal ingredients also come with their own specific requirements for processing, manufacturing and packaging.
So it’s important both as a consumer and as a distributor looking for contract manufacturing facilities, to ensure that your company of choice is equipped to handle your specific project thus able to make a quality product for you to present to the consumer. Why is it important? This may seem like an odd question, but there are many companies around who really don’t care too much about the quality of their products, they’re more interested in the bottom line.
For example, Multi-Level Marketing companies representing vitamin supplements or other types of health product need to retain a high margin, as so much of the product selling prices is disbursed through commissions. There are also companies who don’t appreciate the benefit of having repeat order business. They view every transaction as a one-time event. Often these companies come from other types of retail business. The key to running a successful supplement business is having a strong base of repeat order customers, you cannot accomplish this with an inferior product.
Many assume, quite wrongly, that the FDA are proactively monitoring processors and manufacturers. This is only partly true since much of the raw material is
brought in from overseas, so the damage may already have been done. The USA based processors and manufacturers fall under the regulation of the FDA and the guidelines of eGMP, but there isn’t anything in the system to identify a product which is ‘dead’, nutritionally speaking. Lab tests are required to ascertain the potency and purity of ingredients, but if something contains an enzyme which might be damaged by heat, for example, there’s nothing in the system which will detect or remedy that manufacturing flaw.
It would be comforting to think that manufacturers know their own limitations and will stay within their specific area of expertise, but that’s not the case. So in many respects, the onus is on the consumer to specifically look for a supplier/manufacturer who can demonstrate that they have the necessary expertise to produce the products on offer.
Not an easy task by any means, but if you value your health and value the money you spend on supplements each month, it’s one which you might consider undertaking.