Many Americans take vitamins to supplement their diet and stay healthy. To ensure quality, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration enforces a regulatory standard called current Good Manufacturing Practices. This ensures that companies use safe, sanitary, well-controlled manufacturing processes. Supplement companies that meet the GMP quality standard receive independent certification to ensure consumers that the supplement is high in quality. Keep in mind that even though vitamins are nutrients, they may cause side effects.
Good Manufacturing Certification
The FDA expects dietary supplement manufacturers to comply with GMPs, but it does not certify them. Instead, manufacturers voluntarily enlist independent organizations that have GMP certification or verification programs to certify quality standards. The Natural Products Association, the United States Pharmacopeia and the NSF International are three GMP certification programs for dietary supplements. If you see a vitamin with the NSF, NPA or USP seal, this means the product meets or exceeds GMP standards for quality.
To date about 170 dietary supplements have earned NSF certification. The best way to find NSF-certified vitamins is to look for the NSF seal on the label or use the NSF website's product search feature. To get you started with a few, New Chapter, Country Life Vitamins, Vitamin Shoppe, Amway, Herbalife and Bluebonnet Nutrition are companies that have NSF certified products. These companies make a range of dietary supplements, including vitamins.
The Natural Products Association was the first organization to offer a GMP certification program. The NPA GMP standard reflects the FDA GMPs, as well as the NPA standards, which exceed the FDA requirements. Look for the NPA-certified seal or check the NPA's list located on its site, which it updates regularly. A few NPA GMP certified vitamin companies are Natrol, Nature's Products, NOW Foods, Solgar, Ultimate Nutrition and Anabolic Labs. The NPA also certifies vitamin manufacturers that produce products for a wide variety of companies.
Through its testing and auditing program, the United States Pharmacopeia not only ensures that companies comply with current Good Manufacturing Practices, but it verifies product purity and potency as well. Companies that pass its stringent verification process receive a USP Verified seal. Nature Made, Tru Nature, Berkley & Jensen, Kirkland Signature and BHS are just a few vitamin companies that have earned the USP Verified seal.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21
- Natural Products Association: NPA GMP Certification Program
- NSF Official Dietary Supplements Listing; NSF International
- Natural Products Association: GMP Certified Companies
- USP.org: USP Verified Mark
- Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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