Organic Herbal Vitamins: Knowing The Best Brands on the Market
Organic vitamins aren’t a substitute for healthy eating. But they can complement your diet. Vitamins are substances you need in small amounts for growth and proper functioning. You need such small amounts that vitamins are known as micronutrients. But your body can’t make most vitamins, so you have to get them from your diet or from dietary supplements.
As for which brands to buy, the Organic Trade Association, the industry’s lobbying group, doesn’t make any specific recommendations. According to the Organic Consumers Association, a non-profit public interest organization, New Chapter Inc. has a multivitamin line that uses the standards of the National Organic Program as a guideline.
How Do I Know If It’s Organic?
When you’re assessing which brand of vitamins to buy, carefully read the label. Natural and organic are not the same thing. Organic vitamins are derived from organic products that were not subjected to irradiation, sewage sludge. There are different categories of organic. If a food product is “100 percent organic,” that’s what the label will say. If the label says the product is “organic,” at least 95 percent of the ingredients in a processed product have been organically produced. If the label says “made with organic,” the product has 70 to 95 percent organic ingredients. If the content of organic ingredients is less than 70 percent, the label can only list which organic ingredients are used. Remember, organic has a legal definition.
Who Oversees Vitamins?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a National Organic Program that oversees production, handling and labeling standards for organic agricultural products. Only vitamins certified as organic can use the USDA organic seal. Under rules of the federal Food and Drug Administration, the labels of vitamins or other dietary supplements may not say the product will diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The labels can make what’s called “structure/function claims,” such say saying vitamin C can prevent scurvy. Scurvy is a disease caused by a vitamin C deficiency.
Checking Organic Vitamin Brands
There are few vitamin brands that can claim they are organic. According to the Organic Consumers Association, a non-profit public interest organization, New Chapter Inc. has a probiotic multivitamin line that uses the standards of the National Organic Program as a guideline and is 100 percent organic. The company’s vitamins are created from organic fruits and vegetables. Ronnie Cummins, president of the Organic Consumers Association, says consumers must be savvy and read the labels. If a company claims its vitamins are organic, he says, ask the company for its certification papers. The Organic Trade Association, the lobbying group for an industry that had $14.6 billion in sales in 2005, suggests that organic foods are a better source of vitamins but doesn’t recommend any specific brands of organic vitamins or food. It does publish a directory of organic businesses, including several that sell vitamins. The Mayo Clinic suggests checking the labels of supplements for the abbreviation USP. According to it, the best supplements meet voluntary standards of the U.S. Pharmacopeia for quality and purity. The USP is a testing agency.