Product Selection Methodology
We believe that what you put in your body is extremely important. We focus on recommending health products that have indisputable purity and effectiveness.
Here at HealthAnchor we take our recommendation methodology extremely seriously. We are completely unbiased and don’t have any relationships with any supplement manufacturers or brands. All of our employees and advisors are independent and have no ties with any company that may be under review. We never receive free products for testing – all testing is done on products we buy directly, just like you do.
We try to provide the best and most up-to-date information for you to make accurate and effective decisions about your health products. You may notice lots of citations throughout our articles – they are there so you can follow up on the source.
Why It Matters
At least half of Americans regularly take at least one dietary supplement. Vitamins and minerals, and supplements as a whole, have been marketed as a health solution for many decades. And some of them are formulated and manufactured correctly and really do work to help people correct deficiencies and insufficiencies in their micronutrients and optimize their health. However, many of them are simply ineffective,[2, 3] and some are downright dangerous.[2, 4]
Did you know?
➩ In 2015, the state of New York authorities tested “top-selling herbal supplements” at GNC, Target, Walgreens and Wal-Mart — they found that 80% did not contain the medicinal herbs listed on the label.
➩ In 2010, an analysis of 40 dietary supplements revealed the presence of lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and/or pesticides in 93% of the products tested.
HealthAnchor’s product selection methodology includes looking at supplement product and manufacturer approval and certification by legitimate consumer protection agencies and international regulatory agencies, such as the TGA, NSF, USP, and others.
Unfortunately, there are some vast differences between the different supplement products on the market. The industry isn’t explicitly regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), leaving the consumer to figure out what’s what and it’s really not all that transparent. There are some companies out there that are great: they source their ingredients from responsible farms and sources, do raw material testing, have manufacturing facilities that follow the Good Manufacturing Practices outlined by the FDA, have certifications from consumer protection agencies, and do independent third party final product testing to ensure quality and accurate dosing.
However, due to the lack of oversight in the industry and the preponderance of marketing schemes and the lack of transparency to consumers, there are many supplements out there that miss the mark in a big way.[2, 3, 5, 8] Many brands and many manufacturing facilities don’t undergo any independent testing or provide any quality reports. Many source their raw materials from China, which are sometimes fraudulent and are likely to be contaminated due to lax controls. Many more manufacturers and brands simply use cheap, ineffective ingredients that are accurately labeled but are not bioavailable – which means you are no better off for taking them as they don’t actually provide the potential benefit you’re looking for. The FDA does inspections of some facilities and issues warning letters for blatant violations of their good manufacturing practices and product mislabeling: 60% of inspected supplement manufacturers received such letters from the FDA in 2014, and 73% of those inspected were found in non-compliance in 2011. Sadly, due to lack of consumer transparency, this hardly ever impacts the company revenues.
How We Choose our Recommended Products
We look at widely available supplement products when making our recommendations. We look to scientific databases such as PubMed for the latest scientific research,[10, 11] scour industry reports and talk to experts in the field to identify absolutely the best products out there. We look at certifications and approvals by consumer protection agencies in the US, such as the NSF and the USP, and other countries with higher regulatory standards in this regard, including Australia and Canada. We specifically scour the FDA warning letters and see who does not meet their manufacturing standards. We also look at any laboratory testing reports and analysis that are available, privately as well as publicly.
We specifically base our recommendations on the answers to the following questions:
- Is product delivering the correct formulation of the micronutrient that’s ideal for absorption?
- Does product contain all co-factors or vitamin counterparts that are required for effective absorption by the body?
- Does product contain any questionable ingredients, such as fillers, binders, artificial ingredients, and allergens, that cause internal irritation or prevent it from delivering the nutrient concentration stated?
- Does the supplement have the dosage and concentration that corresponds to the label and industry standards?
- Do health professionals regard this dosage and formulation as one that is effective to correct deficiency or insufficiency?
- Are there any scientific studies backing label claims of the supplement manufacturer?
- Does product contain safe ingredients?
- Does product manufacturer have adequate laboratory testing procedures in place to measure the effectiveness and concentration of active ingredients and identify potential contaminants (GMP, vendor qualification program, quality control procedures)?
- Does the supplement manufacturer do third party independent testing on the raw ingredients?
- Does the supplement manufacturer do third party independent testing on the final product to ensure quality and dosage?
- Does the product have a good reputation?
- Does product manufacturer have a good reputation?
- Has the supplement brand or manufacturer received warning letters in the past from consumer protection agencies such as the FDA?
- Are there consumer protection agencies that have given the product and the manufacturer their certification, seal of approval, or a warning? What is the basis for these and are they legitimate?
- Are there any publicly available and/or private sources, experts, reports, studies, and analyses that should be considered when recommending a particular supplement product?
We are constantly working on improving our methodology. Please reach out if you have any comments or questions.