Natural Supplements: Who actually makes them
Do you know who actually made your supplements?
Many people come into the health food store asking for specific brands of supplements. Some of the health food companies seem to have a better reputation for higher quality products than others. However, are some brands really superior? Or is it the advertising and marketing that surrounds that brand.
To begin you have to consider the most expensive health supplements on the market from companies with names like Metagenics, Vitamost, Genestra, Seroyal and AOR. The reason these brands are the most expensive is because each of these companies employ a specific sales force that call on naturopaths and chiropractors. This is exactly the same model that is used in the pharmaceutical industry.
The cost of the salaried sales representative, the automobile, the samples, the seminars and the trips all add to the price of the product. Not only that, your naturopath will be totally convinced as to the superiority of these products and insist that they be your choice when taking supplements. But where were these products made and who actually manufactured them.
Most of the public does not even realize that the majority of their prescription drugs, the ones prescribed by their physicians, were not even made in North America. They are manufactured in Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, South Korea and China in many cases. These countries do not have strict polluting laws and have very cheap labour.
In the case of supplements, we have the same scenario. Although one hundred companies may distribute 100 per cent pure fish oil, most of them get it from one supplier in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, known as Ocean Nutrition. They have 250 employees and make most of the fish oil for Ascenta, Natural Factors, Naka, Prairie Naturals and even in some cases, the very expensive Carlson fish oil. Just imagine if every company that sold supplements had to build their own manufacturing facility for their fish oil, for their multivitamin, for their B-Complex and for their Vitamin D, how expensive these products would be.
This time of year Vitamin D is very popular and some people buy the Swiss Herbal Brand, others the Natural Factor, Now and Prairie Natural brands. Some come in tablets, others in gels and some come in liquid drops. However, there is only one manufacturer in the world that makes Vitamin D and they account for 100 per cent of all the Vitamin D available on this planet. That company, Hoffman la Roche in Switzerland uses a special patented process in which they use sheepskin from Australia which has been highly radiated from the sun’s rays and convert this in their factory to Vitamin D3, the active form of Vitamin D that is used by all of us. So even if you use the Genestra brand or the AOR brand, two of the most expensive forms of Vitamin D, it all came from the same place and is of the same quality. Even the Vitamin D that enriches your cereal, your bread and many prepared products in the grocery store comes from Hoffman la Roche. They own the world market.
Two of the oldest brands in the supplement industry are Swiss Herbal and Jaimeson. Both of these supplement companies are very open about the fact that they buy all their raw material from hundreds of different suppliers and simply do their own bottling and labelling.
An exception to this norm is Now Foods. Originally from Bloomington, Illinois, a small town just outside of Chicago, they are the largest supplement manufacturer in North America, making most of their own products and products for many other suppliers. When they came to Canada they built a huge plant in Guelph, Ontario and continue to make very high quality supplements at very reasonable prices.
In Canada, the largest supplement manufacturer is Natural Factors. They make many of their own products; they distribute and produce the Weber line sold in drug stores and they make a number of supplements for Costco under the Kirkland Lake brand name. They also manufacture products for a company called Preferred Nutrition and these products include the Dr. Whittaker line and the Brad King Line of supplements. They also manufacture the Medi-C line products promoted by Dr. Gifford –Jones.
In North America we only have two factories still making Vitamin E and because of a lack of competition the price has increased significantly in the past year. Almost 90 per cent of all our Vitamin C is made in China. The Ester-C company of the United States is the only domestic supplier. Yet once again if you buy Vitamin C from Metagenics, Vitamost or AOR, you are paying almost triple the price and getting the same product as those who purchased the less expensive brand.
It is very true that some companies have a better reputation than others but in this modern day and age, all products sold in the health food store are tested and approved by Health Canada. All distributors and manufacturers must meet the same rigid manufacturing processes. You can buy a 13.5ml bottle of Oregano Oil from the original manufacturer, the North American Herb Company for almost $30 or you can buy a 30ml bottle, more than double the size from Natural Factors for $17.99. You can buy Ascenta fish oil for almost fifty dollars a bottle, or you can buy the exact same product, made in the exact same factory for $36 as bottle, a brand distributed by Naka Vitamins and Herbs.
We all want to make our healthcare dollars go as far as they can. Why pay more if you don’t have to. Always check with the sales associates and look for the best brands at the best price.
Your naturopath and your chiropractor may have received their supplements for free. When you take their recommendations they are biased towards certain products and you are subsidizing their free goods. Make your own independent choice knowing that most health supplements come from the same place, no matter whose name is on the bottle.