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Natural: What It Means to Us

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Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 3:35PM

By Michael Lelah, Ph.D., Technical Director, NOW Foods

At NOW Foods, we sell natural products natural supplements, foods, and health and beauty products. We differentiate ourselves from the mass market, where synthetics are rampant. We also distinguish ourselves from many who claim to sell natural products, but whose products are far less than natural. Elwood Richard founded NOW with his vision to provide affordable natural products. As a chemist, Elwood understood the dangers of many synthetic ingredients, and moreover that health and wellness begins with products that are As Natural as Possible. Since 1968, our team has been delivering such products to your doorstep. Our commitment to you is that we will continue to do this.

Let's review some specifics:

Natural Vitamin E: Synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopherol) is chemically and physiologically different from the natural family of Vitamin E isomers. The natural family of vitamin E consists of 4 tocopherols (including d-alpha-tocopherol) and 4 tocotrienols. NOW only sells the natural forms.

CoQ10: CoQ10 is a particularly important antioxidant enzyme. However, there are two forms: the naturally-produced trans-CoQ10 form, and the synthetic, cheaper cis-form. The trans-form is the form found in your body, while the cis-form is chemically different. NOW only sells the natural trans-form of CoQ10. Bovine

Chondroitin: Chondroitin sulfate is a key ingredient in the fight for joint support. Clinical studies demonstrating efficacy are based on bovine Chondroitin (from cow). However, Chondroitin is more cheaply available from porcine (from pig) and chicken sources. NOW does not use the unproven pig and chicken forms, which are prevalent in the market.

D-Amino Acids: The natural form of amino acids is the L-form. Synthetic forms are the D-form or the DL-form. NOW Foods does not sell the synthetic forms; only natural L-Carnitine, L-Arginine, L-Lysine, etc.

Artificial Sweeteners: NOW sells natural sweeteners such as xylitol, erythritol and fructose. We do not sell or use artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame. Although these artificial sweeteners are sold freely in the U.S., much of the evidence for long term toxicity is in question.

Artificial Colors: NOW does not use any artificial colors in our products. Many of the synthetic colors, especially the red colors, have known toxicity. We use only natural colors such as annatto, beet, carob and chlorophyll.

Hydrogenated Fats and Trans-Fats: Hydrogenation is a chemical process where unsaturated fats (vegetable oils) are chemically modified to make them more solid at room temperature. Trans-fats are a particular form of these chemically modified fats. These fats are unhealthy and have contributed to the obesity of America. NOW does not formulate our products with either of these types of fats.

Hormones: NOW Foods does not sell androstenedione, estrogen, testosterone, or DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). These are all steroid and/or anabolic supplements that may have potentially harmful side effects. Ephedra and Bitter

Orange: The FDA has banned Ephedra. But even during the years when Ephedra was legal, NOW Foods never sold Ephedra, as we have always been concerned about its side effects. Today, bitter orange is being used as a substitute for Ephedra. NOW Foods has removed bitter orange from our formulas and we do not sell bitter orange.

Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids: Some natural herbs contain these alkaloids which are hepatotoxins (liver toxins). These herbs include comfrey and butterbur. Our butterbur is free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, and we do not sell comfrey for internal use.

Aluminum: We do not use aluminum in our formula, as it has been associated with Parkinson's disease. Most of our products are formulated/tested to be aluminum-free. Some of our clays naturally contain aluminum and we declare this prominently on our labels.

Titanium Dioxide and Phosphates: These synthetic ingredients are widely used as excipients in supplements. Excipients are ingredients that have no nutritional value, but have been added to improve processing. NOW minimizes the use of these additives. In fact, many of our coQ10 softgels are formulated to be free of titanium dioxide rarity in the market.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) and Propylene Glycol (PPG): PEG is antifreeze. PPG is in the same family. NOW Foods does not use any PEG or PPG in our supplements, and is replacing the PPG in our deodorant stick. All our health and beauty products will soon be PEG and PPG-free.

Parabens: These synthetic chemicals are extensively used in personal care products as preservatives. NOW Foods does not formulate its Personal Care products with Parabens. Sodium

Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): This nasty synthetic surfactant is also widely used in personal care products such as shampoos and oral products such as toothpaste. NOW Foods does not use SLS.

Fluoride: Sodium Fluoride is used to control bacteria and to prevent tooth decay and is present is most of our water supply. There is increasing evidence that Fluoride is unnecessary and harmful, and NOW does not formulate toothpastes and mouthwashes with Fluoride.

Chlorinated Compounds: Chlorinated organic compounds are not found in nature. These compounds are toxic and very dangerous. PCBs and dioxin are examples, as is sucralose. NOW Foods does not formulate with chlorinated compounds.

Irradiation: Irradiation is used to kill bacteria. But irradiation also has side effects, transforming the natural components in herbs and botanicals into unnatural molecules. NOW conducts microbiological tests, and rejects ingredients where this test indicates the presence of irradiation.

Alcohols: NOW does not use any alcohols in foods. Only grain alcohol ethanol is used in our liquid extracts. No other synthetic alcohols are used.

Fish Oil Purification: NOW molecularly distills all its fish oil. This physical separation and purification process produces the best fish oil, free of heavy metal contaminants and pesticides. Compare!

Genetic Modification: NOW is opposed to genetic modification, because there are real and unknown harmful effects. Unfortunately, much of the world's supply of corn and soybeans is genetically modified. We continue to bring you more and more products that are certified GMO-free, all clearly stated on the label.

Organic: Organic products are the most natural. No pesticides, herbicides or fungicides are used in cultivation. This is good for our environment, and NOW is taking every measure to increase our selection of organic products.

Pesticide Residues: We use pesticide-free products where available. Our Panax ginseng is pesticide-free. Roots are most susceptible to contamination by pesticides. As described earlier, our fish oils now are all molecularly distilled, ensuring them to be pesticide free.

Heavy Metals: Natural botanicals do contain heavy metals because heavy metals are naturally occurring in soil. We ensure that the heavy metal content is completely safe. A concern with fish oils is mercury content. NOW fish oil is molecularly distilled and mercury-free.

Microbial Contamination: Many natural ingredients contain naturally occurring low levels of microbes. However, high microbial contamination, and contamination with pathogens and aflatoxin contamination, are unnatural. We have an in-house state-of-the-art microbiology lab staffed with professional and trained microbiologists that test our materials and products against microbial contamination.

Oxidation: Some natural products will oxidize when stored. To minimize this from happening, we include silica-gel packs to remove moisture, and in some cases use Ageless® anti-oxygen packets, which reduce the oxidation and keep the product in the bottle as fresh and natural as possible.

At NOW Foods, we take natural seriously. This is our life, our expertise, and our business. We hope that you appreciate the efforts we go through every day to manufacture natural products at the best possible prices. This is our commitment to you, and we welcome your suggestions to help improve the NOW® product line.

Integrity is a proud supporter of NOW!


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