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Things to Know When Purchasing a Supplement

What follows is a list of the common sources for many vitamins. Note, most of these can be derived from vegetarian sources. Also, continue on to the bottom of this page for definitions of common terms used on supplement labels:

Glucosamine Sulfate, Cartilage Extracts - Cartilage extracts - including purified chondroitin sulfate, sea cucumber, green lipped mussel and shark cartilage - are popular nutritional supplements. Commercially available sources of glucosamine are derived from Chitin, the specially processed exoskeleton of shrimp, lobsters and crabs. These are all tame’.

Calcium - May be derived from oyster shells or animal bones, which are tame’.

Vitamin A, D - Can come from shark oil, which is tame’.

Vitamin B - Any B Vitamin may be derived from non-kosher animals. Only vegetarian forms are kosher.

Zinc - May be derived from liver or shellfish, which are tame’.

Binders, Coating Agents - gelatin, which is tame’, is often used.

Lubricants - Glycerin is common. Animal glycerin is tame’. Only vegetable glycerin is kasher.

Flavoring - Can possibly come from tame’ animals.

Emulsifier - Whey, oils, lactose (lactose is used as the base for a large percentage of prescription drugs).

Magnesium Stearate - A lubricant most often from non-kosher animals (although it can be vegetable based).

Pancreatic Enzyme - From a hog pancreas.

Royal Jelly - Derived directly from the queen bee secretion, which is not kosher.

What follows are definitions of terms commonly used on supplement labels

Chelation (key-LAY-shun)
The process by which minerals are bonded to an amino acid. The body absorbs amino acids more easily than minerals, so this process enhances the absorption of minerals. Any chelated minerals are subject to question due to the amino acid. For more on amino acids, see: Non-kosher Food Additives.

Synergistic (sin-er-JIS-tick)
From the Greek word synergia meaning "joint work." Substances are synergistic when they work together as a team to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects, i.e., Vitamin C, rosehips and bioflavonoids.

Excipients (eks-SIP-ee-ents)
Various inert substances added to give the desired consistency or form for tableting. Vitamin tablets cannot be manufactured without excipients. Some common excipients are: binders, fillers, lubricants and disintegrants. Some excipients may derive from tame’ sources.

Substances that give cohesive qualities to powdered materials; in other words, they hold the ingredients together for tablet formulation. Some common binders are cellulose, a food grade binder ; and povidone or plasdone, inert granulating agents.

Inert materials added to the tablets to increase their bulk, in order to make them fit a particular size tablet mold for compression. Some common fillers are calcium phosphate and cellulose.

Inert material added in very small amounts (usually less than 1%) to the powder blend to prevent the compressed tablet from sticking to the tablet punches and dies. Common lubricants include vegetable stearin (similar to vegetable shortening) and magnesium stearate, which most often is derived from tame’ animal fats.

Added to the formulation to help the tablet disintegrate after consumption, thereby releasing the active ingredients. Common disintegrants include several modified cellulose derivatives, which work by swelling when wet.