In light of the NY Attorney General targeting herbals at certain retailers for missing ingredients and non-identified ingredients, can health supplements be trusted? The story, which broke in the NY Times http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers/ may not be complete. For example, the test method used by the AG is not a generally accepted protocol due to known errors. However, when considered in light of a Consumer Reports 2013 article on glucosamine and chondroitin http://consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/10/facts-about-joint-supplements/index.htm it would be understandable for consumers to have doubts.
In the case of SierraSil Joint Formula14 we have control over our own raw material from its source in the Sierra Mountains that divide California and Nevada. Our quality control process starts with assays of mineral in the deposits. Then accepted material is subjected to X-Ray Diffraction testing to ensure the consistency of the mineral structure against our specification and to confirm the initial assay. This is because assays can be misleading, think of sugar versus starch versus cellulose – very similar ingredients, different structures, very different characteristics and uses. A third level of verification is bio-accessibility testing. This gives us information on how much of the calcium and other minerals are actually accessible for uptake into the body. An analogy would be eating a whole cherry -the pit will pass through and be excreted – hence it is not bio-accessible.
The industry expects test methods to be validated or qualified to produce reproducible testing so that test results are not questioned and the repeatability of the results is accurate. Same goes with equipment – industry standard equipment is expected to be calibrated on a regular basis to ensure that the weight produced is accurate and not questioned. Never-the-less, minor variability in test results can occur due to the nature of testing in parts per million and also due to variability in naturally occurring materials.
We remain confident in the quality of the name brand supplements that we personally use to complement our diet and lifestyle choices, and we have absolute confidence in the reliability and consistency of SierraSil Joint Formula14. As to the NY story, we would not be surprised to see a retraction with the use of accepted testing protocols on the products that were targeted.