Vitamin quality 101

Last Modified: 12/01/2021

An estimated 68 percent of Americans take a dietary supplement of some kind. The question then becomes, how can consumers verify the quality of the vitamins they’re purchasing and ingesting? Nneka Igwemadu, 2019 PharmD candidate, Manchester University College of Pharmacy, and Ross Robison, PharmD, BCPS, Parkview Lagrange Hospital, answer some of the biggest questions surrounding the supplement market.

What is a vitamin?

Vitamins are nutrients that cannot be synthesized in the body in sufficient quantities and must be obtained through the diet. Lab tests can be helpful in determining nutritional deficiencies.

There are several distinct differences between prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and vitamins, including:

Why do some people need vitamin supplements?

If a patient’s diet is not providing the daily required amount of micronutrients necessary for normal growth and function, supplementation with vitamins and minerals may be appropriate.

Understanding the risks

There are three primary risk factors associated with a nutritional deficiency:

1. Inadequate nutritional absorption and delivery

2. Reduced nutritional stores

3. Chemical/hormonal changes within the body due to age, genetics and various diseases

Identifying quality products

One way that consumers can confirm the quality of the products they buy, is to look for the verification mark.

Getting started

While every person is different, and it's important to speak with your physician and take your own health goals into consideration, these supplements are commonly used for managing and maintaining overall wellness. 

To find out more about U.S. Pharmacopeia Convention (USP) verified dietary supplements, visit


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