I am a independent USANA associate and a retired Accident and Emergency (ER) Nurse and my wife is a consultant Anaesthetist in the NHS and we use the USANA products ourselves and recommend them to our family, friends and colleagues without hesitation.
Let me explain what we were looking for when deciding what vitamin and mineral supplement to take ourselves. Let’s assume we understand what vitamins and minerals do in our body and that we all understand why we need to take supplements. We are then trying to work out how to select a quality vitamin and mineral supplement in a confusing array of products with more hype and marketing than good science or manufacturing being the norm.
The four main things to look for in a quality nutritional supplement are:
- Purity, does it contain only what it says on the label, nothing more, nothing less and nothing else. Could it contain contaminants that are potentially harmful?
- Absorption, will the tablets, capsules, juice, liquid be absorbed by the stomach and get into the cells where they are needed?
- Potency, does it contain ingredients in high enough levels for optimal health rather than the minimum amounts to prevent acute deficiency diseases?
- Completeness, does it contain the full spectrum of nutrients that we need on a daily basis or only a handful?
First, a little about supplement manufacturing and GMP certification. Dagny suggested “So, go with the drug store brand or check the Internet but be sure it is GMP certified, if you go to the Internet. If its a major drug store chain, they should be reliable.” .
Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me explain.
GMP certification means that the manufacturer complies with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards. Supplement manufacturers in the US and UK are only required to comply with Food Standard GMP’s rather than Pharmaceutical GMP’s. Which standard you choose makes a great deal of difference to what is allowed in the product with regard to contamination with herbicides, pesticides, PCB’s Dioxins and heavy metals and stimulants to name a few. Several high-street brands have had to recall products because they have been found to contain “excessive” amounts of dioxins, and heavy metals above the recommended “safe” levels set by the regulatory bodies in charge of deciding what is supposedly “safe”. They recognise that our food supply is contaminated with all manner of toxic substances and so set limits to which foods need to comply. This is the levels to which supplements manufactured to Food standard GMP’s must comply. The other point that needs to be understood is the amount of testing that the product is subjected to. Not very much. Because of the way the auditing system works many supplements have not been tested by the regulatory body.
The International Olympic Committee in 2000 tested 634 off the shelf supplements and found that 14% if taken by an athlete would have resulted in the athlete testing positive for banned substance including nandrolone and growth hormone. This is due to the lack of regulation governing supplement manufacture.
What this means for us the consumer is that we cannot trust supplements manufactured to Food standard GMP’s as we could be taking supplements containing toxins and banned substances.
Pharmaceutical GMP’s are far stricter and more difficult to adhere to and therefore supplements are much more expensive to produce. Raw ingredients are quarantined and tested for purity prior to entering the manufacturing plant. The raw ingredients have to comply with what is on the label. Not so with Food standards.
Products are thoroughly tested throughout the manufacturing process. USANA is so confident that their products meet or exceed the Pharmaceutical GMP that they guarantee athletes that they won’t test positive for banned substances as a result of taking the product and will pay twice an athlete’s income, up to CAN$1 million, if they did.
Pharmaceutical GMP requires that the products disintegrates and dissolve in the stomach acid and so be able to be absorbed. USANA have gone further and tested people’s blood to check that they have absorbed the nutrients. Some well known supplements don’t even disintegrate and actually pass out of the body unchanged. I don’t care how cheap or expensive they are, they are a complete waste of money.
Most supplements contain the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) levels for their ingredients which is the minimum amounts our bodies need in order to prevent acute deficiency diseases such as scurvy and rickets. Levels required for optimal health where the cell has all the materials it needs to perform most effectively are much higher than RDA levels.
The science behind what amounts and of what ingredient should be in a quality nutritional supplement is too detailed for this discussion. You can go and do a great deal of research about what each product contains and whether it complies with these criteria, or you can go and get the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements where they have ranked more than 1500 supplements according to stringent criteria.
USANA is ranked at the top with three other companies and is the Editor’s choice.
USANA do a lot of clinical research, most unpublished, checking for effectiveness or trying to substantiate other company’s research, always looking for ways to improve the products. I’d be happy to share some of the research if it would help.
Whether they are right for you, you’ll have to decide for yourself. You may like to try them for six months and then decide if they may have helped improve your health.
You can get them online or phone the office. Or you can order them through my website www.expecthealth.usana.com
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