Choosing Supplements That Hit the Mark

Posted: May 07, 2024 | Word Count: 622

There are over 80,000 vitamins and dietary supplements on the market, but not all are created equal. Seventy-four percent of Americans take dietary supplements to improve their quality of life.[i] However, many are unaware that the quality of these products can vary greatly.

Most consumers are misinformed about how the dietary supplement industry is regulated, which can lead to inaccurate or dangerous assumptions about supplement quality.[ii] Since 1994, dietary supplements have been regulated as a category of foods, meaning that they do not require U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval before they are sold to the public. For this reason, what is listed on a supplement label may not be what is actually in the bottle. Looking for products with independent third-party verification, like those verified through U.S. Pharmacopeia’s (USP) Dietary Supplement Verification Program, can offer consumers peace of mind that the supplements they consume are made up of what's listed on the label.

A growing number of reports and recalls have raised concerns about inconsistent quality in the dietary supplement industry. For example, in 2022, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted a study reviewing 30 dietary supplements with claims related to immune health.[iii] Of these 30 supplements, 17 had inaccurate labels; 13 were misbranded, and nine had additional components detected that were not claimed on the label. Outcomes like this make it clear that without independent third-party verification, it’s hard for consumers to know what exactly is in the supplements they choose.

“Every year, the dietary supplement industry expands, thanks to increased consumer demand,” Michael Rashed, Director of Non-Pharmaceutical Programs at USP, said. “As we continue navigating a growing market of health and wellness products, it's crucial for consumers to understand how supplements are regulated and to prioritize selecting products that have undergone third-party testing.”

Only products that meet USP’s rigorous testing, review and auditing criteria receive the USP Verified Mark. When consumers see this symbol, they know that USP has independently reviewed and tested the product to confirm it meets USP’s quality standards:

  • Contains the ingredients listed on the label in declared strengths and amounts
  • Does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants
  • Complies with FDA Good Manufacturing Practices
  • Will break down and dissolve within a specified amount of time so the dietary ingredients can be released and absorbed by the body

In fact, in a USP-led survey of nearly 300 licensed healthcare practitioners, including dietitians, nutritionists, physicians, pharmacists, and nurse practitioners, the top three most important elements when recommending a dietary supplement were product quality, ingredient list, and quality assurance marks or seals.

“It’s of utmost importance that consumers can trust the quality of the supplements they are taking to support their health. The USP Product Finder is a searchable tool for all products that have earned the USP Verified Mark,” Rashed said. “We encourage consumers to use this tool so they can make informed choices when purchasing supplements.”

The product finder features over 150 dietary supplement formulas that have received the USP Verified Mark, including melatonin, multivitamins, prenatals, probiotics, and other popular vitamins and supplements. USP Verified Products are sold at major retailers, grocery stores, pharmacies, and wholesale retailers across the U.S., as well as online through product websites.

When purchasing new supplements or restocking favorites, follow these steps:

  1. Use the USP Verified Product Finder to find trusted, quality supplements
  2. Look for the USP Verified Mark
  3. Consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating a new supplement into your routine

To find USP Verified products, visit:

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