Nutraceutical Testing: Ensuring Safety & Quality

Season 1 | Episode 33
14m | Jan 1, 2023

In this episode of the Tonic talk show and podcast, Andrea Donsky, a registered holistic nutritionist with 20 years of experience in natural health and wellness, joins Jamie to discuss the nutraceutical industry and the importance of rigorous testing. With Canada's strict regulations on for supplements, consumers can rest assured that the safety standards are excellent. However, not all supplements are created equal, and it's crucial to identify brands with quality ingredients that actually work.

Andrea emphasizes that as consumers, we have the right to ask companies questions and ensure that we can trust the brand we're purchasing. In the past, the supplement industry was like the Wild West, lacking regulation and credibility. Fortunately, Health Canada now regulates the industry, which safeguards both quality and product claims. We also have stricter standards than many countries.

To ensure the safety and efficacy of nutraceuticals, companies should conduct testing for identity, potency, and purity. Identity testing involves verifying that the listed ingredients are present in the product, as ingredient suppliers may provide inaccurate or incomplete information. Potency testing determines the strength of the ingredients, ensuring that consumers receive the intended benefits. Purity testing is crucial to detect any contaminations or residues, ensuring the final product is safe for consumption. She explains how solvents are employed in the production of many nutraceuticals; however, we do not want them or their residue in the finished product.

Andrea highlights New Roots Herbal as an example of a Canadian company that takes testing seriously. New Roots Herbal operates an ISO 17025 accredited lab, which means they adhere to international standards for quality and accuracy. By conducting third-party testing, New Roots Herbal ensures their products meet stringent criteria and deliver valid and accurate results.

She discusses her virtual tour of the New Roots Herbal’s third-party analytical laboratory with their director Serge Kuate. He stresses how New Roots Herbal has weeded out many inferior quality suppliers as they’re aware their quality does not measure up.

One unique aspect of New Roots Herbal's testing process is their focus on identity. They use special technology to examine the DNA of raw materials, ensuring that each ingredient matches the provided certificate of analysis (COA) from the supplier. Testing also screens raw materials to confirm non-GMO status. This attention to detail also helps prevent the inclusion of incorrect or low-quality ingredients, maintaining the therapeutic benefits of the product.

The conversation also touches on the importance of testing for potency. The potency of a supplement determines its efficacy. Some products may not disclose the amount of active compounds, while others provide precise information. New Roots Herbal, for instance, specifies the potency of their supplements, allowing consumers to make informed choices based on their needs. They discuss awareness of pricing which when too good to be true may indicate a problem regarding quality. She also discusses the importance of microbiological testing which they perform on all finished products.

Their discussion takes a little detour to examine delivery methods with probiotics used as an example. New Roots Herbal employs a proprietary GPS enteric coating system for it’s probiotics as well as some delicate enzymes for protection from harsh stomach acids. This ensures a biologically active product reaches the intestines intact. 

By prioritizing rigorous testing, nutraceutical companies like New Roots Herbal ensure that consumers receive safe and effective products. Testing for identity, potency, and purity plays a vital role in maintaining trust and ensuring the quality of supplements. Tune in to this enlightening episode to learn more about nutraceutical testing and the measures taken to provide reliable and beneficial supplements.

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