Although vitamins are generally considered natural, their quality can vary greatly. Not all vitamins are created equal and contrary to popular belief, just because a particular brand is more expensive does not always mean that it is better. In addition, there are few regulations in the vitamin industry, which can sometimes make it difficult to determine which products are better choices.
However, tests may be performed to ensure a vitamin’s quality, which includes purity, potency, effectiveness and consistency. Some brands even use their test results as marketing points for their products. Some brands have their own testing facilities, other brands depend on independent laboratories, while yet other brands use a combination of both their own and independent facilities to ensure that the results are accurate and unbiased.
Some factors that could affect a vitamins quality
Some factors that could affect a vitamin’s quality are the quality of the original source in which it is derived (most commonly a plant or animal), the process in which the supplement is made and any additives. It should also be noted how well a vitamin breaks down in the body for proper absorption. In addition, some supplements can actually contain toxins and other harmful substances, as well as unhealthy amounts of particular vitamins or not as much as the label claims. Quality in the same brand can also vary within different lot numbers. It is also important for those with allergies or sensitivities of any kind to be assured that the product they choose will not cause an unwanted reaction.
When determining quality, the source of the vitamin should first be considered because the quality of the end result can only be as high as the source from which it was derived. Although most sources could be considered natural, an organic source would be a superior choice.
Each step in the manufacturing process should be considered as well, from the methods of deriving the vitamins from the original source to whether the end product is either encapsulated or tableted. Some companies may use chemical solvents to extract the needed vitamins from the source, but these chemical means are not regulated. Whenever possible, chemical solvents should be avoided or at the very least limited. The more chemicals used, the greater the chance of tainting the vitamins, as well as leaving larger amounts of unhealthy chemical residues within the actual supplement. Some other methods used during manufacturing, such as heating, can also affect the vitamin. Some companies claim that encapsulating is a better option for absorption while other companies prefer tableting. One thing to consider is that most tablets are coated with a corn-based glaze to make them easier to swallow. This would be an important consideration for someone with food allergies or sensitivities.
Sometimes during the manufacturing process additives are used for a variety of reasons. Ingredients may be difficult to work with and certain additives make the process easier for mass production. Other additives are sometimes used to make a vitamin more palatable. Preservatives may also be added to extend the shelf life of the product.