When it comes to buying food and other groceries, it’s good to know what you are buying and what it’s for in regard to your health and nutrition. That includes nutritional supplements. It’s also nice to know if what you are planning to buy is the real thing and if it meets a quality standard that assures us we are getting what we think we are getting. That’s where standardization of product comes in, and that’s why product labeling is so important.
Does this stuff work, and is it safe? Those two questions are the essence of shopping for nutritional and dietary supplements, which, while subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation, are classified as nutritional supplements and not as food items or medications, per mayoclinic.org – when in fact many people use supplements specifically targeted to health and even medical considerations. So, what are you as a consumer supposed to do when shopping for and handling nutritional supplements? Blind faith is not the right answer. Reading and understanding product labels is crucial. Knowing what is standardized and what isn’t is a huge step in the right direction.
What Is ‘Standardization’?
When shopping for vitamins and other nutritional supplements, with the intent of protecting or enhancing your health, you need to know exactly what you are looking for and what’s inside each bottle. This is where a consultation with your personal physician or a licensed nutritionist is in order, although that’s only a start. As webmd.com puts it, “Just because a supplement is labeled ‘all-natural’ doesn't guarantee it's safe or effective in all cases due to your personal health conditions, requirements and potentially any prescription medications or treatments you may be actively taking."
The appearance of ‘standardized’ on a product label means that the manufacturer of that supplement has taken measures and followed protocols to ensure that every batch of a particular product is being produced consistently in terms of ingredients and specified concentrations of each, depicted by percentage. For herbal products, for example, that translates to properly labeling plant extracts containing a set percentage of active ingredient(s) that remains the same from bottle to bottle (or whatever form of packaging is used).
The standardization of herbal extracts is meant to guarantee delivery of a product to consumers in which the chemistry is the same from batch to batch, per nowfoods.com. The basis of standardization is the premise that individually identified (and isolated) compounds are responsible for an herb’s action.
Another type of standardization involving herbal supplements focuses on an herb’s key components using them as markers – or guides – while at the same time making every effort to ensure that the full range of the herb’s components are extracted from the plant and included in the manufacture of the supplement. The aim of this type of standardization is to make sure such an herbal supplement has a baseline level of potency each time without sacrificing components.
Standardization Is Not a Requirement
There is no requirement in the U.S. that dietary supplements be standardized, although it is a practice highly recommended for supplement manufacturers. It’s for the purpose of gaining the trust of consumers, even though a label branded with “Standardized” is no guarantee of a product’s quality. That’s because “Standardization” can be interpreted differently by different manufacturers, with some simply following the same formula from batch to batch, even if the formula hasn’t been properly and repeatedly tested for efficacy and quality.
Wonder Labs always goes to great lengths with its standardization procedures and protocols, intensely testing the chemistry of each product to make sure a proper balance of components is achieved before “locking in” its production formula for a particular product. Manufacturers of nutritional supplements also must adhere to several guidelines, such as not being allowed to make a specific medical claim, but can address a nutrient deficiency or nutritionally support health in a certain areas.
If you have any questions about a particular nutritional supplement product, you are encouraged to contact the manufacturer to get answers and guidance. Wonder Labs welcomes your questions. Contact us at 1-800-992-1672, or submit your comment or question to us via the form to be filled out at wonderlabs.com.