Q&A When Buying Dietary Supplements
When you buy something that you plan to ingest to support your health, you want to know exactly what you’re getting. For that to happen you need to find the answers to these questions.
Is your dietary supplement really organic?
When you start reading up on organic farming, it can get downright confusing. It would be nice to trust products that are labeled USDA certified organic, but it doesn’t take long before you come across information that says maybe those standards don’t go far enough. Here’s what the labeling generally means:
USDA Certified Organic: Under this label, the soil a food is grown in must not have had prohibited substances applied for three years prior to the harvest of the crop. Most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are prohibited, but farmers can seek exceptions. Genetically modified organisms are prohibited. According to the USDA, “Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.” To be labeled USDA Certified Organic, a farm must pass a yearly inspection. Generally speaking, the USDA Organic label is reliable. Other reliable organic labels include:
Quality Assurance International (QAI)
Nature’s International Certification Program (NICS)
EU Organic Certification
Perhaps the gold standard in organic certifications is the Demeter Biodynamic Certification, which holds farmers to stricter standards that the USDA. Here’s something keep in mind when shopping organic. Many small- to medium-sized farming operations are not able to afford the certification process. If they document their farming practices and they meet organic standards and they give you reason to believe in their honesty, then those are products you can purchase with confidence. Remember, no matter the label, verify what the label means and that the supplier in question is meeting those requirements in a transparent way.
Do you know what is in your dietary supplements?
Unfortunately, some supplement companies cut their product with filler ingredients to save on costs. You have to question if the supplement has been mixed with other ingredients. Often the fillers are harmless (except they weaken potency), but not always. And some supplements don’t even contain the active ingredient they claim to. Most producers are good faith actors that do their best to label accurately, but there are bad apples. And because of that, it’s important to choose a supplier who performs third-party testing on their products. We test all the products we offer through third-party labs and share the results with you, so you know what you’re getting, how potent it is, and its level of purity.
Do you know the potency and purity of your supplement?
Speaking of potency and purity, when it comes to natural supplements, they contain bioactive ingredients that work in your body in very powerful ways. They can do a lot of good for your health. But when taken incorrectly, they can do harm. You must know how potent your supplement is so that you can use the correct dosage for your health needs and achieve the optimal outcome. Again, this means third-party testing with full transparency regarding the results… something that we will always provide you at Onhava Naturals.
Is it ethically sourced?
You’re here because you care deeply about your health, about people, and about the earth. (That’s why we’re here, too!) Ethical sourcing ensures that the products you buy are crafted by people who share your same values.
Ethically sourced products come from companies that:
Make responsible, transparent decisions regarding land use and inputs, harvest
practices, raw material processing, and labeling practices.
Provide safe working conditions to employees, pay fair wages and charge fair prices, and that treat their employees well.
Deal openly and honestly with suppliers and vendors.
Communicate clearly with the community they work within.
Regularly audit themselves and their suppliers to make sure there is a strict adherence to high standards.
Is it sourced from a single origin or small-scale farm?
When you’re working with a small-scale farm, it is easier to ensure accountability. Small farms that practice ethical sourcing and radical transparency welcome visitors, so you can see their operation and verify they practice what they preach. Working with small product batches provides better consistency in terms of potency and purity.
You also know who you’re supporting and who supports your health by providing ethically sourced, responsibly grown products.
Was your dietary supplement processed and packaged in a GMP & FDA inspected facility?
If not, impurities and even dangerous substances could have been introduced in the processing and packaging process.
At Onhava naturals we choose suppliers who use GMP and FDA inspected facilities whenever possible. But our primary goal is to provide you natural products from suppliers committed to ethical sourcing and striving for the highest levels of transparency. If we find a supplier who adheres to these traits but does not have access to a GMP and FDA inspected facility, we may still choose to carry their product. And of course, we will tell you that is the case.
What kind of packaging does your supplement come in?
For some supplements, the main concern in packaging is that it is environmentally friendly. But for other supplements, the correct kind of packaging can protect potency and effectiveness. And the wrong kind of packaging can mean disappointing results.
What is the breakdown of the retail cost?
Some companies mark up their products more than necessary, just because they offer an organic label. It does cost a bit more to grow things organically, but not an exorbitant amount. Pricing transparency lets you see how much your provider is spending on testing and packaging, that they are paying their suppliers fairly, and that their markup is fair.
Was your dietary supplement tested at a reputable lab?
Without testing every batch, it’s impossible to know if you’re getting the expected purity and potency from the product you’ve purchased. A reputable company will readily share the contact information of the labs they work with as
well as the full results of the tests for each batch of product.
What kind of process(es) were used from seed to bottle for your dietary supplement?
For many supplements, there is some amount of processing to extract the bioactive compounds of the plant. The method of processing can affect the purity and potency of the supplement. It also can be potentially damaging to the environment.
When buying a supplement, look for the company to be open about the processing methods used, the reasons they were chosen, the impacts those methods have on the supplement, and how sustainable they are. They should also share the qualifications of those involved in the process. And, it’s good when companies are willing to share videos or photos of the processing in action. That’s another piece of the puzzle that can help you know you’re getting a good product from honest people.