Nutritional Supplement Quality
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

November 28, 2017

What’s in YOUR Nutritional Supplements?

Not all nutritional supplements are created equal.

You’re just starting the Fat Flush Plan and are staring at the list of UNI KEY supplements used in the program. They may stretch your budget, so you question: “What am I actually paying for?” Why not go find the cheapest comparable product online, or in the local pharmacy or big box store? The answers to these questions may shock you, and are the reason I partner with UNI KEY and only recommend their products.

It’s all about quality, and supplement quality is regulated by the manufacturers. In some cases this is like the fox guarding the henhouse. The investigations done show an unfortunate number of supplements are full of contaminants and contain no active ingredient at all. This has cast a bad light on the supplement industry and caused ethical supplement manufacturers to develop their own standards for maintaining quality in the industry.

The People Have Spoken

The popularity of dietary supplements comes from the consumer demand for natural alternatives to mainstream medicine, and is now a $40 billion industry. This grassroots demand for more treatment options beyond pharmaceuticals and surgery birthed my career and my passion to pioneer effective nutrition therapies for detox, weight loss, and women’s health.

According to a 2015 survey done by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, 68% of Americans take a dietary supplement and 84% of these people have confidence in the safety, quality and effectiveness of their supplements. It’s important to know your supplement manufacturers are using high quality, effective ingredients.

The Fox IS Guarding the Hen House

According to an investigation done by the New York State Attorney General’s office in 2015, herbal supplements from GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens were tested and only 21% of the products actually had DNA from the plants advertised on the labels. In many cases, unlisted contaminants like houseplant, wheat, pine, citrus, beans, rice and wild carrot were the only plant material found in the product samples. The worst offender was Walmart, where only 4% of the products tested had any DNA at all from the plants listed on the labels.

The truth is supplements in the US don’t have a lot of government regulation like pharmaceuticals do. They are regulated as food. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) puts the manufacturer in charge of making sure a dietary supplement is safe before it’s marketed. The FDA only gets involved after a supplement is sold to consumers and found to be unsafe.

In 2007, the FDA issued Good Manufacturing Standards (GMPs) specific to supplement manufacturers. These standards include requirements for how supplements are manufactured, prepared, and stored. In 2015, the FDA started the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP), which primarily focuses on labeling and making sure banned substances and pharmaceuticals aren’t being hidden in dietary supplements.

Another Wrench in the Works

Have you seen a “Prop 65” warning label on your supplements, with a statement that the product may contain chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm? California passed Proposition 65 in 1986, which requires foods, dietary supplements and other products to carry a warning label if it may contain chemicals that have been found to cause cancer or birth defects. The list of chemicals included in this warning is long – over 800 now, because the criteria is that the substance only has to show that it might cause cancer or birth defects in an animal study, not necessarily in humans. Additionally, the substance can be naturally occurring and not even an additive and still a warning label must be on the product.

A supplement company who wants to sell products in California has to go through complicated and expensive testing at their own expense to prove the product is safe. Instead, many companies opt to put the Prop 65 warning label on what is likely a clean supplement to save on manufacturing costs. The end result of this is many supplements, which are very safe, carry a Prop 65 warning to avoid passing excess costs on to you, the consumer.

The Gold Standard

While looking for a seal on the bottle is convenient, the standards behind these seals still aren’t the highest possible. They don’t test every batch of raw material, or every bottle of finished product. Ethical, good quality supplement manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to set their own high standards. They ensure every bottle of their product is high quality.

The Gold Standard should include testing every batch of raw materials for potency and contaminants, independent third party testing of every batch of the finished product for potency, purity and bioavailability, and following GMPs including clean manufacturing facilities. This combines the highest and best of all the government and independent standards, but goes one step further by careful testing of each batch of product, not just the ones that will be tested in order to be able to use the seal of the testing agency.

UNI KEY Goes Above and Beyond the Gold Standard

UNI KEY has always held itself to the Gold Standard, and so much more. When they find an ingredient they want to use, they research and use the best quality available and test it for purity before it goes into the products. For instance, they choose bovine (cow) over porcine (pork) glandulars and source animals from New Zealand, where they’re grass-fed and not given hormones. When it comes to manufacturing, this level of quality control can take more time, but to me it’s worth the wait.

UNI KEY visits their suppliers and knows their growers. They use only non-GMO ingredients. All of the supplements are gluten free and they eliminate all common allergens whenever possible. The packaging is BPA free and biodegradable.

UNI KEY Founder James Templeton and I have studied with master healers like Dr. Hazel Parcells, Hanna Kroeger, Robert Bradford, and many more, and use this knowledge to create our formulations. Ancient wisdom needs to meet modern science, so our dosages are backed by studies and research.

This is why I choose to partner with UNI KEY Health Systems for my line of supplements. I trust their manufacturing process and I have seen firsthand that they go beyond the Gold Standard. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And last but not least, I take many of these products myself, and I only want the highest quality available for me and my family, as well as you and yours.


Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Lisa P.

    Very interesting! I had no idea how much supplements could deviate.

  2. MArgaret

    The NY scandal study has been covered by the American Botanical council but interestingly got no press coverage. Essentially the supplements tested were already processed and the DNA barcoding cannot detect processed herbs. The best mehod for plant identification is HPLC. The ABC went ahead and retested those supplements and the number who deviated was substantially lower. With that being said, i would never buy my herbs from a mass market company because you dont know if the herb was sustainably sourced, free of heavy metals, adulterated etc. Having spent time in europe where supplements are extremely controlled i also wouldnt like to live in that environment where i dont have access to them readily like i do here. The answer is the consumer must do their research and this is where we as health providers come in— to provide that education and awareness that good companies do exist and they deserve to be recognized for their diligent work.

    • Team ALG


  3. Kathleen

    This is why I love the Uni-Key supplements. I have noticed improvement in my health while taking them since 2012! Throughout the 1990’s up until 2011 I had the store bought supplements from vitamin stores. They had not improved my health. Thank you Uni-Key for creating organic, pure, bioavailable supplements that I can trust! Thank you James Templeton for your high standards, for your company and for Ann Louise Gittleman.



  1. Radical Metabolism Made Quick, Easy, and Affordable | Ann Louise Gittleman - […] their products contain the DNA of the ingredients listed on the label (read more about this here). This is…

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