One of the greatest threats to the natural health industry is licensed products.
This may sound strange coming from the founder of a supplement line that is entirely licensed; however, I am talking about the flip side of the coin. Most people would assume that if a product has been reviewed and approved by Health Canada for licensing, it must be high quality. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Customers often ask us, "If a product is licensed shouldn't it be high quality and therapeutic?" Ideally, it should be, but all products are not created equal. Because of the different sources of raw materials, NPN licensing simply becomes window dressing. It hides the real issue and creates empty hope for those who are suffering and seeking natural relief.
When pursuing quality, price is often reflected in what you pay. When the price seems just too good to be true, the bargain may actually cost you more than the higher quality version. The best way to describe the difference is to discuss the details of different manufacturing methods. Let’s use Amino Acids(AA) as an example.
With the enzymatic reaction method, an amino acid precursor is converted to the target amino acid using 1 or 2 enzymes. This enzyme method allows the conversion to a specific amino acid without microbial growth, thus eliminating the long process from glucose. This method comes into its own when the amino acid precursor is supplied at low prices.
With the extraction method, natural proteins are degraded to various amino acids, but the amount of each amino acid contained in the raw material proteins naturally restricts the yield.
Cheaper versions are derived from non-vegetarian sources starting as a protein, and often from sources such as bird feathers, human hair and/or sewage sludge. The inorganic proteins are cleaved into component Amino Acids, which must them be purified or cleaned up to isolate the individual AAs of interest. The purity of the finished product is highly dependent on the efficacy of the purification steps taken, and when buying AAs based on price alone, they will not likely end up with a bioavailable product that is able to absorb to the cellular level.
Customers must question the things they take into their bodies, especially when it is intended to bring better health: “If this is the starting position, what else is still in there? What chemicals used to clean up the finished product are still existing?”
The amino acid fermentation method is a method for the production of amino acids utilizing the phenomenon that microorganisms convert nutrients to various vital components necessary to themselves. In order to produce amino acids using microorganisms, it is important to find a microorganism with a high potential for producing amino acids. Once a microorganism suitable for the fermentation method has been selected, it is necessary to enhance its potential--that is, to make improvements to take full advantage of the potential of the organism. Fermentation method uses 30 enzymes to produce amino acids--hardly comparable to the enzymatic reaction method.
Generally, microorganisms produce the 20 kinds of amino acids only in the amounts necessary to themselves. They have a mechanism for regulating the quantities and qualities of enzymes to yield amino acids only in the needed amounts. Therefore, it is necessary to release this regulatory mechanism in order to manufacture the target amino acid in large amounts. A fermentation tank is filled with syrups/sugars derived from sugar cane, corn, and cassava, and then fermentation conditions are set so that the stirring conditions, air supply, temperature, and pH are optimum. Finally, only the target amino acid is obtained from this fermented broth in high purity.
AAs which are manufactured by fermentation, such as ones produced from Life Choice, start with nutrients (starches, cane sugars) which are converted to target amino acids by the use of microorganisms and enzymes. Instead of breaking a protein into AA pieces and trying to clean it up with solvents and chemicals, fermentation methods use optimized metabolic pathways and specialized complex enzymes in order to “build” the target AA. It is the same natural way our own bodies make many amino acids.
The 2 methods are very different for manufacturing AAs; they have very little to do with each other and as such, the cost for AAs derived from different methods is very different. At the end of the day, the old adage holds true: “You get what you pay for.”