Ever wondered if what the label says is in your vitamins is actually in there? Now there`s a way to make sure. The Dietary Supplement Verification Program, or DSVP, allows you to rest assured that the products you buy are potent and pure--and exactly what they claim to be on the label.

The DSVP program is run by the United States Pharmacopoeia, or, USP. While any product manufacturer can places the USP symbol on their product if they determine that their products meet USP standards, only products which have been verified directly and independently by USP can place the DSVP seal on their vitamins and supplements. DSVP is the ultimate symbol that the product you are consuming has been verified through each step of its manufacturing and into the bottle you`ve purchased. The USP Manufacturing Practices are patterned after those the FDA uses for verification of pharmaceutical products. The Wellness Advisor spoke to Rachel Agnew, RD, about DSVP.

Q:Why do quality programs matter?

A: Quality programs like the United States Pharmacopeia's (USP) Dietary Supplement Verification Program (DSVP) matter because an independent or third-party tests a manufacturer's products on a variety of measurements. This effort goes one step beyond any internal quality checks a manufacturer might run. Participation in these programs can benefit both the consumer and manufacturer.

For consumers, third-party programs like DSVP help them quickly and easily identify quality products. A DSVP mark on the product label helps assure consumers that the dietary supplement is free from harmful contaminants and contains the ingredients stated on label. In other words, what is on the label is, indeed, in the bottle. For manufacturers, programs like DSVP help them improve their manufacturing and quality control procedures.

Q: I`ve seen the letters `USP` on supplement bottles before, what`s thedifference between a product with the letters `USP` and one that has the `DSVP` mark?

A: The letters `USP` on the label were placed there by the manufacturer to indicate that the product or ingredient meets USP standards. This is a good first step, but USP letters alone do not mean that USP has conducted any independent testing to verify the accuracy of the manufacturer's claim.

A `DSVP` mark or symbol on a supplement's front label indicates that USP has indeed conducted independent testing on the product itself and on the manufacturing process. Some of the tests we perform include an on-site manufacturing facility inspection, verification that the product was made in accordance with the USP standards and that it contains the ingredients listed on the label, among other rigorous requirements.

Q: Why does a DSVP mark matter?

A: The mark helps assure consumers that certain standards were met in the development of the product. These standards include good manufacturing practices, testing for pesticides and contaminants, and product dissolution and disintegration. If a product dissolves or disintegrates too rapidly or too slowly, it may interfere with the body's absorption of the product.

Q: What does the mark signify?

A: The DSVP mark confirms that USP has tested and verified ingredients, product and manufacturing process of the dietary supplement.

Q: Are ALL brands of dietary supplements USP/DSVP-certified?

A: No! Nature Made was the first brand to join DSVP and to meet DSVP requirements on some of its products. For the most up to date list, visit www.usp-dsvp.org.

Q: How do manufacturers get the USP/DSVP mark? What criteria or standards must manufacturers meet?

A: DSVP is a voluntary program. To earn the mark, manufacturers must first qualify their products. Then there is an extensive and rigorous process of quality assurance document review, manufacturing site(s) inspection, product testing for pesticides and contaminants and to ensure that what is on the label is in the bottle. Lastly, the manufacturers agree to post-certification testing on all DSVP-labeled products. For post-certification testing, USP randomly tests the DSVP-labeled product from a drug store shelf.

Q: Can manufacturers buy seals to put on their supplements?

A: Some seals are available for purchase. The DSVP mark, however, cannot be purchased.

Q: What makes USP an authority?

A: USP has been setting U.S. standards for drug products since 1820. We set standards not only for prescription medicines such as penicillin, but also for dietary supplements and over-the-counter products like aspirin tablets and sunscreen, for example.

Q: Does the DSVP mark guarantee that a product works? Why or why not?

A: USP does not evaluate products for safety and efficacy. The DSVP symbol shows that products with the mark have been tested as noted above and that the product dissolves in the body according to USP standards.

It is difficult to guarantee a dietary supplement product works, because many products are taken for preventive health reasons. The purpose of taking supplements is to maintain good health. Therefore, consumers may not notice a difference when taking the product if they're feeling well. Many vitamins and minerals are considered essential for the body to function properly and have recommended daily requirements.

For more information on USP certification please visit uspverified.org

Source: Naturemade