Is one vitamin brand any different than another?
Your doctor recommends that you take a dietary supplement, so you're standing in the vitamin aisle, staring at row after row of vitamins, nutritional supplements, herbal medicines and more. Several companies make the supplement you're looking for. Is there really any difference? Is one better than another, and is there a way to know?
Federal law requires that pharmaceuticals meet specific quality standards before they can be sold in the U.S. So, when you pick up your prescription at the pharmacy, you can be confident in the quality and safety of your medicine. While dietary supplements are subject to some regulation, there are currently no requirements for these products to adhere to public quality standards.
Fortunately, quality standards for dietary supplements do exist and reputable manufacturers use them to test and verify that their products meet established specifications and acceptance criteria. Some of these manufacturers go a step further and voluntarily participate in third party verification programs. USP offers verification programs for both dietary supplement ingredients and finished products and applies the same rigor to its verification services as it does to its quality standards, which are required by law for medicines.
Manufacturers can add a "USP Verified" mark to their labelling when their dietary supplement ingredients or finished products meet the program's testing and auditing criteria. The mark indicates to purchasers that the ingredients or products meet program specifications. So, when you're standing in the vitamin aisle choosing between different brands, you can identify those that have voluntarily undergone and met the evaluation criteria.