Consumer interest in organic vitamins and other organic dietary supplements is on the rise in the U.S.
In 2019, U.S. sales of organic dietary supplements climbed a little over 10% to a record $1.7 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association. The nonprofit group predicts sales of organic vitamins and supplements will keep growing.
Overall, 77% of American adults report taking dietary supplements, a 2019 survey by the nonprofit Council for Responsible Nutrition shows. By far, the most popular supplements are vitamins and minerals. What’s the No. 1 reason cited for taking supplements? Improving health and wellness.
Chances are, you’re one of the millions of Americans who already take organic supplements or you’re curious about them. But how much do you really know about organic supplements? We’re going to equip you with some knowledge about what organic supplements are and how they might benefit you.
What are organic supplements?
First, let’s briefly explain what vitamins and supplements are. They’re capsules, liquids or tablets that are designed to supply nutrients and boost your health. You might, for instance, take a dietary supplement to make up for a shortage of vitamin C in your diet because you’re not getting enough of it from the food you eat. Supplements can help you follow a healthy, balanced diet.
Organic supplements are dietary supplements that are entirely or mostly made from organic ingredients. They’re free of chemicals that aren’t natural, meaning there aren’t pesticides and other toxic ingredients. If they claim to be organic, supplements also are supposed to be free of GMOs.
What should you look for on the label of organic supplements?
Not all organic supplements are identical. Here is a breakdown of the three main types of organic supplements and how they’re labeled:
- 100% organic. A dietary supplement that contains agricultural products grown and processed under guidelines of the National Organic Program falls into this category if all of the ingredients are certified as 100% organic. Any product that qualifies for this designation can say on its label that it’s 100% organic and can display the organic seal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- 95% organic. A dietary supplement that contains at least 95% organic ingredients and permitted nonorganic ingredients can say on its label that it’s organic and can display the USDA’s organic seal.
- 70% organic. A dietary supplement that contains at least 70% organic ingredients and permitted nonorganic ingredients can say on its label that it’s made with certain organic ingredients but cannot display the USDA’s organic seal.
Keep in mind that additives, binding agents and fillers are found in some organic supplements, so be on the lookout for those if you want to avoid them.
Also, it’s worth noting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements, regardless of whether they’re organic or synthetic. Therefore, it’s important to look for third-party verification of organic supplements.
This verification comes from organizations like United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF). If a supplement is certified by either of those groups, you’ll see USP or NSF on the label. Products tested and certified by USP or NSF don’t have additives, binding agents or fillers.
What are the benefits of organic supplements?
Compared with synthetic supplements, organic supplements:
- Don’t contain toxic chemicals.
- Might contain more nutrients. Organic supplements often are made with organic crops like blueberries and carrots. Research shows these crops offer higher levels of antioxidants and other nutrients than traditionally grown crops do.
- Are easier for the body to absorb. In some cases, it might be harder for your body to absorb vitamins and other nutrients in synthetic supplements versus organic supplements.
- Are better for the environment. Why? Organic farming adheres to higher environmental standards than traditional farming does.
Are organic supplements as important as organic food?
Everyone should stick to a diet complete with foods — preferably organic foods — that offer the recommended amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. But everybody’s dietary needs vary. So, one person might be able to follow recommendations for the intake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients merely by consuming the right foods. However, another person might be deficient in certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients; this person might want to add supplements to their daily routine.
Before taking any supplement, it’s wise to visit with your health care provider about how the supplement would affect your overall health and whether it might decrease the effectiveness of your prescription medications.
In the end, someone who’s committed to an organic lifestyle should consider organic food and organic supplements as two key ingredients in their diet. Eating organic food but taking nonorganic supplements might throw your diet off balance.