How Do You Know if a Vitamin is Pharmaceutical Grade?
How to Tell If your Supplement is Pharmaceutical Grade or Not
In the past years, more people have turned to nutritional supplements to prevent and treat common diseases. This stems from a common belief that supplements are created equal and can magically improve the functionality of various systems in the body. Unfortunately, most people search for supplements with the best value and not quality. That said, consumers should consider the grade, bioavailability, purity, and form of supplements, as they contribute to the overall effectiveness of vitamins.
What is Pharmaceutical Grade and Why You Will Never Go Back?
Before delving into pharmaceutical grade supplements, it is worth mentioning that vitamin supplements are available in four main categories, namely, food/agricultural grade, nutritional/cosmetic grade, medical-grade, and pharmaceutical grade. Compared to other grades, pharmaceutical-grade vitamins are of the highest quality, meaning they have the highest dissolution, purity, and absorption.
While vitamin supplements are designed with maximum purity and absorption, not all products are 100% pure. However, for vitamin supplements to be categorized as pharmaceutical grade, they should surpass 99% purity, shouldn’t contain binders, dyes, fillers, and inactive ingredients. This explains why pharmaceutical-grade supplements are less than 3%.
That said, while you should be cautious with what you ingest, athletes and people with special conditions should be extra careful. Choosing pharmaceutical-grade vitamin supplements is the only way of ensuring that you ingest pure and high-quality supplements with the highest form of ingredient bioavailability.
However, since production costs are high, pharmaceutical-grade supplements also cost more. Manufacturers spend more for their products to earn pharmaceutical-grade labels, which involve rigorous sourcing, production, and testing. Very few companies can show such commitment to efficacy and transparency.
Generally, pharmaceutical grade vitamin supplements have the following two main advantages;
- Excellent bioavailability – bioavailability describes the extent that ingredients in supplements are absorbed in the body. Pharmaceutical grade supplements have high bioavailability, thanks to their patented technology make.
- Purity – as mentioned before, vitamins should surpass 99% purity to be categorized as pharmaceutical grade. These companies rigorously test their source ingredients before being processed in the labs and finished products before leaving their labs.
How to Tell if a Supplement is a High Quality
Sadly, most vitamin supplements sold in drug stores contain synthetic ingredients manufactured from petrochemicals and plants. Based on this, the easiest way to tell if a vitamin supplement is of high quality is by checking its price. Inexpensive supplements are typically made from cheap forms of vitamins with additives, sweeteners, and preservatives.
Most people who take vitamin supplements do so to improve their health. Ironically, they take cheap supplements that contain unhealthy processed ingredients and preservatives. That said, you should consider the following when looking for a high-quality supplement;
1. Vitamin Form
For vitamin supplements to be effective, they should contain vitamin forms that can be recognized and utilized in the body. A perfect example is the B12 Vitamin, which is available in 4 forms, namely;
- Cyanocobalamin – a synthetic form of vitamin B12 that doesn’t occur naturally. For the body to use this form, cyanide should be cleaved and converted to Methylcobalamin.
- Methylcobalamin – is the main form of Vitamin B12 found in food and used by the body.
- Adenosylcobalamin – primarily found in the liver
- Hydroxycobalamin – a natural form of B12 produced by bacteria
Based on this, you should choose Methylcobalamin, which is utilized by the body and available in foods. Unfortunately, most vitamin B12 supplements sold over the counter use Cyanocobalamin because it has a long shelf life and is cheap.
2. Ingredient Content
You should also keenly study other ingredients used in manufacturing these supplements. Avoid supplements with preservatives, trans-fats, sweeteners, and additives.
3. Manufacturing Process
You should only order supplements that are manufactured with strict quality control measures. An easier way to confirm this is ensuring that you purchase products with a c-GMP label, which means they were manufactured following Good Manufacturing Practices.
What is the Difference Between Food Grade and Pharmaceutical Grade?
Superficially, the difference between these two supplement grades is that pharmaceutical supplements meet pharmaceutical standards while food-grade supplements meet the basic standards for human consumption. However, the main difference between pharmaceutical grade and food grade vitamin supplements comes down to honesty.
With pharmaceutical-grade supplements, manufacturers go through the production hoops with guaranteed quality and purity. Pharmaceutical grading isn’t a loose term, and supplements should have a minimum of 99% purity, approved by the manufacturer and FDA compliant.
Due to strict manufacturing guidelines, pharmaceutical vitamin supplements are effective. They should also be readily absorbed within 45 minutes after ingestion. With guaranteed quality, purity, and speed, users of pharmaceutical supplements often feel their effects sooner.
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