Unfortunately, since quality testing is not required, many supplement manufacturers simply don't do it! You need to look for something called a "COA" which stands for a "Certificate of Analysis".
What is this certificate and why is it important?
This certificate is something that all quality manufacturers should get with each and every batch of their supplement they create! This certificate comes from laboratory testing and is given once a supplement meets specific criteria. I really appreciate how Mountain Rose Herbs walks us through the COA and what to look for to ensure you are ingesting what you think you are. Check out their blog here.
Another way to verify that your supplement is safe is look for "USP Verified" on the label. "USP" stands for United States Pharmacopia. "For nearly 200 years, United States Pharmacopeia (USP) has protected public health by developing quality standards for critical and life-saving health products – including drugs, drug ingredients and dietary supplements.
Although not affiliated with the government, USP standards are recognized in US Law, and USP works closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Medicines sold in the United States must be approved by the FDA and are required to meet USP standards.
Except for new ingredients, dietary supplements do not need to be approved by the FDA before they are marketed and USP standards are voluntary
What does the USP Verified Mark tell you?
The distinctive USP Verified Mark is awarded by USP to dietary supplement products that successfully undergo and meet the stringent requirements of its voluntary USP Dietary Supplements Verification Process. To find their verified products, looks here: https://www.quality-supplements.org/verified-products
The USP Verified Mark on the label indicated that the product:
Contains the ingredients listed on the label, in the declared potency and amount
Does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants
Will break down and release into the body within specified amount of time
Has been made using safe, sanitary and well-controlled manufacturing practices according to FDA and USP guildeline
Lastly, I appreciate the information by Consumer Labs, where you can look up safety data on multiple supplements. Check it out here.
About the authors
Written by Havilah Brodhead, RN, MSN, FNP-BC. Havilah is a family nurse practitioner and clinical nurse leader. She strongly values the integration of plant-based medicine with conventional medicine. Havilah is the owner of Hearthside Medicine Family Care, LLC, in Bend, Oregon.
Reviewed by integrative medicine pharmacist Dr. Thomas Liederbach, Doctor of Pharmacy