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Professional-Grade Supplements: What are they & why they ARE worth it

By Caitlin Beale, MS, RDN+

The number of supplements on the global market is overwhelming for consumers and even for medical professionals. On the one hand, more choices are beneficial; on the other hand, there’s more opportunity for subpar quality and product variability.


The sheer number of supplements makes it hard for regulators to track. Supplement researchers and allied health professionals suggest that there simply aren’t enough testing methods or adequately trained professionals to analyze every product on the market.1


As a result, it’s not a surprise that the general public may question the value of professional-grade supplements versus less expensive options. After all, why pay more for something that looks identical from the outside? But the reality is that there can be a big difference between the two.


Let’s take a closer look at professional-grade supplements and why they are worth it for you and your health.


What Does “Professional-Grade” Mean?


Regulations for dietary supplements vary between geographical locations. For example, one country may only allow very specific health claims on its supplement bottle labels, while another may allow more. Other countries may limit specific ingredients or additives, while others may not.


Food Business Operators (FBOs) play the most critical role as they supply ‘Food Supplements’ to the consumers. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that any food supplement being supplied is not only safe, but nutritious.


“Once a FBO has clearly understood their responsibilities and has implemented regulatory requirements including an efficient food safety management system and is committed to maintaining it consistently, it will result in consistency in delivery of safe food [supplements] and ultimately a healthy society and world food security.”


Professional-grade supplements bridge this gap in consumer safety and trustworthiness by formulating products that meet high quality control standards. They help consumers feel confident the product contains what it says it does and that it’s in a form and dosage that can be effectively used by the body. It also often means that ingredients are sourced from reliable vendors, so there’s no question about the quality.


Two women and a man working in a laboratory


Here’s Why Professional-Grade Supplements ARE Worth It


Professional-grade supplements verify their products with third-party testing and meet self-assigned rigorous standards for purity and potency, so you know you are taking a pure, evidence-based product. An evidence-based product means that there is scientific evidence to support the claims made about the product and on the dosages chosen.


These products also tend to have good reputations in the industry for integrity and relationships with healthcare professionals they want to maintain. They do so by continuing to produce products that meet their stringent standards.


Let’s look at how this is all accomplished:


Professional-Grade Products Use the Highest Quality Raw Ingredients


Professional brands source raw materials (ingredients in the supplement) from known and trusted suppliers. This means that a company will set standards not just for their own manufacturing processes but even for the suppliers who ship the ingredients they use to make their products.


The testing process continues throughout the manufacturing, where the brand ensures:


  • Identity: What ingredients are present?
  • Potency: How much of the ingredient is included?
  • Contamination: Testing for unwanted microbes, heavy metals, solvent residues, pesticides, or other toxins


It may seem like a lot of work, but this testing and assurance is necessary to ensure the highest quality professional-grade supplement products. Contamination is a problem with many non-professional brands.2


For example, one study examining ginseng supplements found that almost 25% of the tested products had different species or plant parts than what was listed on the label. 1


Professional-Grade Products Don’t Take Short Cuts


Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are used throughout the manufacturing process because the production of the product is as important as the ingredients. Employees are carefully trained to follow the SOPs. Regular quality control audits are conducted to ensure that all protocols are followed to limit the potential for contamination or inaccuracy.


Most professional product brands also limit unnecessary additives and ingredients that you may see in other brands, such as: 1


  • Fillers
  • Binders
  • Preservatives
  • Artificial colors


Even if these other ingredients, additives, or excipients (inactive ingredients that help deliver the active ingredient) make the manufacturing process faster for the company, professional brands choose quality over cutting corners.


Professional-Grade Supplements Are A SafeOption for Allergies or Restrictions


People with allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients must be cautious with supplement choices. Similar to contamination, non-professional-gradesupplement options could increase the chance of accidental exposure. 2


Even if products don’t contain the allergen or problematic ingredient, cross-contamination can occur throughout the manufacturing process. A professional-grade supplement from brands that offer stringent GMP protocols in manufacturing as well as third party testing to confirm potency of their ingredients is a safer choice because they have standardized methods to ensure cross-contamination doesn’t happen or testing to catch any potential issues.


Professional Products Know Bioavailability and Dosage Matters


Non-professional supplements don’t always emphasize the importance of bioavailability rate as professional brands. Bioavailability is how much of an ingredient can actually be absorbed and used by the body (as opposed to being lost in digestion). Professional-grade products tend to use ingredients that have higher absorption rates, so you get more for your money.


The proper form and the correct dose also matter for effectiveness. If a study has been performed on a specific type of magnesium, for example (because there are multiple forms), professional brands will use the same type and dose used in the study and the amount found effective.


Healthcare Professionals Trust the Research Behind Professional-Grade Products


The companies that develop professional-grade supplements also typically have great expertise in product development and formulation. They work closely with scientists and healthcare professionals with a deep understanding of the ingredients and what needs to be included to make a product safe and effective. Some even use branded ingredients used in clinical trials.


As a result, healthcare professionals who recommend supplements to their patients generally use professional-grade because they trust the ingredients’ quality and efficacy.


It’s essential to ask your healthcare provider before taking any supplement and research the product, so you know exactly what’s in it and if it’s the right choice for your health goal.


Pharmacist working and smiling with customer


Professional-Grade Supplements Are An Investment In Your Health


Think of professional-grade supplements as an investment in yourself. These products use quality ingredients, follow strict operating procedures, and have high standards for purity and potency.


You have a lot of choices in the supplement world, so spending your money on professional products is a simple way to get the quality and value you deserve.


Caitlin Beale, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian and freelance health writer. She has a master's degree in nutrition and over ten years of experience as a registered dietitian.


+The views expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Pure Encapsulations®.


1 Dwyer JT, Coates PM, Smith MJ. Dietary Supplements: Regulatory Challenges and Research Resources. Nutrients. 2018;10(1):41. Published 2018 Jan 4. doi:10.3390/nu10010041


2 Brykman MC, Streusand Goldman V, Sarma N, Oketch-Rabah HA, Biswas D, Giancaspro GI. What Should Clinicians Know About Dietary Supplement Quality?. AMA J Ethics. 2022;24(5):E382-E389. Published 2022 May 1. doi:10.1001/amajethics.2022.382