The Importance of Quality Material Sourcing

With the growing focus on good manufacturing practices (GMPs) in the nutritional supplement industry, the sourcing of quality ingredients has become more important than ever before.

 

With the growing focus on good manufacturing practices (GMPs) in the nutritional supplement industry, the sourcing of quality ingredients has become more important than ever before. Currently, GMP certification programs as offered by NSF International (Ann Arbor, MI) and the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA; Newport Beach, CA) are purely voluntary and many companies have decided against taking part in the certifications. The lack of standards among these companies has led to a wide disparity in the quality of raw materials and finished products available in the marketplace, making it even more important for prospective purchasers to carefully consider what product lines to buy.

When our company, Arizona Nutritional Supplements (Chandler, AZ), was approached to manufacture and distribute products for integrative medicine pioneer and leader Andrew Weil, MD, the quality of the ingredients was a crucial factor. The formulations are driven by the science-based recommendations of Dr. Weil and all products are reviewed by the Weil Science Advisory Board, a team of physicians and researchers who are experts in the field of nutrition supplementation. Since the Weil formulations are based on stringent scientific research, the standards for the materials in these products have to meet strict guidelines that make diligent quality control standards a must.

KNOWING YOUR SPECIFICATIONS

All sourcing begins with defining the given product’s specifications. For example, a request for a product featuring 100 IU of vitamin E can be delivered in a number of ways. Many consumers are still unclear about the distinction between d-alpha and dl-alpha forms of tocopherol, and this issue was exacerbated by a recent analysis in the medical community that reported on the safety of vitamin E without differentiating between the natural and synthetic forms.

If a formulator is looking for a standard d-alpha tocopherol form of vitamin E, one could cast a net and come up with a number of solutions to meet the claim; however, if your specification is particular about the standardization of tocopherol or tocotrienol components, the list slims down considerably. For the Weil Nutritional Supplement Antioxidant products, the standards were higher than most, with the request for not only a naturally derived tocopherol/tocotrienol complex, but an exceptional phyto-carotenoid complex as well. Based on the recommendations of the Weil Science Advisory Board, we worked with Carotech (Edison, NJ), an expert in manufacturing tocotrienol products, that supplied us with Tocomin, a palm fruit–derived tocotrienol source that also contains phytosterols, squalene, and carotenoids-making it consistent with Dr. Weil’s recommendations.

A CERTIFICATE OF ANALYSIS IS NOT ENOUGH

It’s easy for a prospective supplier to type up a specification and attach it to a shipment of raw materials; the difference is in vendors that can support their documentation through testing to back up the claims made for the materials. An essential component to a quality sourcing program is the ability and willingness of a manufacturer to test incoming raw materials to ensure that the products they are receiving are what they are purported to be. More manufacturers are now sharing third-party analytical results on materials and have become more receptive to working with independent labs to validate testing methodologies.

To fulfill these goals, it is important to work with vendors that control the sources of their ingredients while rigorously testing the materials themselves. In the case of the Tocomin material, Carotech is in full control of the extraction process and has an unparalleled ability to extract and concentrate tocotrienols from palm oil without the use of solvents. Carotech not only provides an assay of the product, but also conducts secondary tests to make sure these specifications match.

Having confidence in the chosen raw materials becomes even more important with products that receive additional scrutiny in the marketplace. For Weil Nutritional Supplement products that contain fish oils, such as the Weil Cardio Support Formula, Mood Support Formula, and Omega-3 Complex, an additional layer of testing has been added. The products have been tested both individually and through the IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) program with the results posted on a Web site for customers to view. For these products, a quality-focused vendor was essential to provide both the high potency and exceptional purity specifications we required. For this purpose, Weil Nutritional Supplements exclusively feature DSM Nutritional Products’ (Parsippany, NJ) ROPUFA 75EE material that meets and exceeds the criteria set by the Weil Science Advisory Board for fish oil products. Weil Nutritional Supplements has received the highest rating of 5 out of 5 stars for purity, potency, and stability through the IFOS testing program. The results can be viewed online at www.ifosprogram.com.

MORE THAN JUST A QUALITY INGREDIENT

The quality of the raw materials is essential, but the service and technical support a supplier provides after the sale is highly valuable and often overlooked. An expert supplier conducts research on how its products perform and looks to provide the end consumer with more than just a quality ingredient. In the case of the ROPUFA fish oil from DSM, not only do the products consistently meet a high level of potency, but the product design allows an enhanced shelf life. In addition to this, research has been conducted on sensory characteristics like smell and taste, something often overlooked by manufacturers of fish oil products but of great concern to consumers. By using DSM’s ROPUFA material, the Weil Nutritional Supplements line provides products that are consumer-friendly in terms of potency, stability, and reduced risk of reflux.

LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE

When we look to the future, we need to continue to work together in the industry to promote safe, quality products and spur a positive change in the marketplace. As consumers become educated about nutritional supplements, they will drive the market toward higher-quality ingredients, benefiting the industry as a whole as these materials become more accessible through increased demand.

Not only does the addition of a high-quality product line like Weil Nutritional Supplements help raise the bar on quality for the nutritional supplement category, but all of Andrew Weil’s after-tax profits from the sale of Weil Nutritional Supplements go directly to the Weil Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization committed to improving the training of healthcare professionals; educating the public about health, healing, and life-style; reforming public policies governing healthcare; and researching the application of integrative medicine.