Vitamins & Supplements

  • FAQs Regarding Supplement Purity and Quality at Pharmaca

    Folic AcidIn response to a recent investigation by Frontline and the NY Times calling into question the purity and safety of dietary supplements, Pharmaca has developed the following to help answer common customer questions.

    Should I be taking supplements?
    We believe that dietary and herbal supplements can be an integral part of a good health regimen, but they must be of the highest quality and purity in order to serve their purpose. That’s why Pharmaca adheres to stringent quality standards when selecting supplements for sale.

    Why should I trust the purity of supplements on Pharmaca’s shelves?
    We have deep expertise in the field of herbal supplements and understand there is a wide range in quality of products in the marketplace. It is for that reason that we have put in place a Vendor Quality Assurance Program (VQAP) designed specifically to vet our suppliers and their products. This program follows guidelines outlined in the FDA Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act, FDA 21 CFR 111 cGMP guidelines and USDA Organic standards.

    What is the Vendor Quality Assurance Program?
    We want to be the trusted editor for our customers when it comes to the quality of our vitamins and supplements, and the VQAP offers a framework for us to do so.

    Through the VQAP, all of the herbal and dietary supplement brands that Pharmaca carries are evaluated for their use of current Good Manufacturing Practice standards, for the purity and potency of ingredients, and for their formulations and efficacy.

    We also perform periodic verification of our vendors’ quality practices via on-site audits and self-audit questionnaires, which forces our supplement manufacturers to be completely transparent about their processes.

    The VQAP self-audit questionnaires are reviewed using a graded approach to determine the level of quality practices the supplier has in place. Missing answers to the critical questions show potential adulteration and/or contamination problems with materials/products supplied. These questions deal with information about the vendor’s quality control personnel, specifications and related testing of raw materials/finished products, possible contamination of materials/products due to inadequate sanitation practices, inability to substantiate label information, and non-compliance with current food labeling regulations for potential allergens. If the vendor’s answers indicate possible contamination/adulteration issues with materials/products, the use of the vendor will be rejected.

    Are there any other factors that go into your product selection?
    In choosing our supplements, we also rely heavily on the expertise of our in-store practitioners and Integrative Health Advisory Board—made up of both medical and naturopathic doctors—who are well-versed in the use and efficacy of different supplements and brands.

    Pharmaca also partners with brands of like mind, those that have a demonstrated history of using pure, efficacious ingredients. Some of these also qualify as “professional brands” that have been developed—and are in use—in doctors’ clinical practices.

    Does it make a difference that Pharmaca’s staff includes licensed practitioners?
    Yes. Our licensed pharmacists, naturopaths, herbalist and nutritionists are responsible for offering our customers sound counseling on the proper use of dietary supplements, and that they remain compliant with the government’s DSHEA regulations as they do so. Practitioners also undergo rigorous ongoing training to ensure they are up to date on the latest research concerning our brands and ingredients. The presence of all types of practitioners—both conventional and alternative—also allows us to provide a balanced, “integrative” approach that is not found in other vitamin and supplement retailers.

  • Practitioner Spotlight: What's in a Nutritionist’s Medicine Cabinet?

    group shotOur health and beauty practitioners are pros at recommending natural skin care remedies for customers. But what are the essentials they always keep on hand? We asked Sabrina Magno, certified nutritionist at our Pacific Palisades, about the Pharmaca products she can’t live without.

    Nature's Way Raw Coconut
    I love educating customers on the benefits of organic, whole-food sources of healthy fats, and coconut oil is a great source of minerals, vitamins and fiber. It's packed with medium chain fatty (MCT) acids that provide quick energy, and is a great natural source of lauric acid, which offers additional antimicrobial properties. It can be easily added to smoothies, used as a healthy alternative to butter or added to millet breakfast porridge or tea.”

    Thorne Research Stress B-Complex
    In my practice I’ve found that a good percentage of my clients don’t have adequate levels of B vitamins. B vitamins often work together in the body, play a crucial role in cell metabolism and are responsible for numerous processes including synthesis of DNA and RNA, and methylation of DNA. At Pharmaca we offer high-quality products like Thorne’s Stress B-Complex, which has active forms of all eight B vitamins, along with extra pantothenic acids.” 
 


    Inner-Eco Fresh Coconut Water Probiotic and GT’s & Synergy Kombucha
    “I am a big proponent of creating a healthy microbiome. In addition to fermenting my own vegetables at home, I am always in search of good sources of probiotics. These coconut water and kombucha options are a great way to help replenish and inoculate gut flora with healthy bacteria and beneficial yeast such as saccharomyces boulardii.”

    Aura Cacia Peppermint Essential Oil
    “If you’ve met with me at Pharmaca, you probably noticed my passion for promoting aromatherapy! Essential oils stimulate the brain and neural activity by crossing the blood-brain barrier. Peppermint oil is great for headaches, digestives issues and as a decongestant.

    John Masters Organics Pomegranate Facial Nourishing Oil 
    “The skin is our largest organ and we have to feed it well! This organic blend of oils is a great source of antioxidants, ideal for creating healthy skin, and is an excellent tool to fight skin dryness during cold weather. Plus it has the safest rating in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics database.”

  • Herbalist’s Spotlight: What supplements does our lead practitioner recommend for men?

    SunCare2-ArticleEvery day at Pharmaca, our health care practitioners recommend natural remedies for customers from all walks of life. We asked experienced herbalist Matthew B. to share his favorite supplements for men.

     Pure Encapsulations Phyto-ADR

    “I recommend this as a restorative tonic. The adoptogens in this vegetarian formulation provide comprehensive support for the adrenal glands, promoting physiological balance and improving resistance to stress. Who doesn’t need that?”

    Jarrow Prostate Optimizer

    “As men get older, this supplement—which is formulated with natural extracts and necessary fatty acids—becomes important for optimal prostate function and urinary flow.”

    Thorne Vitamin D (5,000 IU)

    “What I like about this particular Vitamin D supplement is that it’s the right dose and not a dangerous dose. It also has no hidden ingredients like lactose, BHT, BHA, sodium benzoate and sorbic acid, which can be detrimental to people with sensitivities.”

    Metagenics Highly Absorbable Magnesium Glycinate

    “For muscle tension and insomnia—another common complaint for men—I recommend magnesium glycinate. Not only is it highly absorbable, it’s not dependent on stomach acid for absorption, which means you won’t experience loose stools.”

    Natura InflamAway

    “Just the thing for weekend warriors and serious athletes. One of my favorites for inflammation, swelling and pain from physical trauma, InflamAway works at the cellular level to assist in the removal of damaging toxins and help balance the body’s inflammatory processes.”

     

  • Magnesium: A Cornerstone of Health

    Swiss chard RainbowMagnesium is essential for so many things: the beating of our heart, a positive mood, energy production, releasing tension…in other words, we can all benefit from magnesium!

    Identified in more than 300 processes inside the body, magnesium is a powerful building block that contributes to overall health and wellness in a unique way. A key player in physical and mental relaxation, neuromuscular transmission and energy, magnesium serves double duty both rebuilding the body, and giving it a sense of wellbeing.

    Magnesium also functions closely with potassium, calcium and phosphorus. It hums through the body, maintaining an electrical charge between cells and inside muscles and nerves. Magnesium has a very special relationship with the heart, and studies show that both acute and chronic magnesium deficiencies are associated with an increased risk of heart attack.

    Another main role of magnesium is to perpetuate a game of checks and balances with calcium inside the body. It is fundamental for both the absorption and excretion of calcium, and assists in the safe elimination of calcium through the urinary tract, preventing kidney stones and soft-tissue calcium deposits.

    Magnesium deficiency is very common in the elderly, and magnesium supplementation is recommended for those with intestinal or renal distress. Approximately 30-40 percent of dietary magnesium is absorbed, depending on the form consumed, and on individual intestinal transit time. For this reason, large doses of magnesium can be used for occasional constipation without being depleted in the body.

    Pregnant women can also benefit from therapeutic magnesium supplementation to help prevent pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, as well as during the birthing process. Magnesium can also help prevent or lessen the effects of PMS through its ability to regulate mood, appetite changes, energy, cramping and overall response to stress.

    Magnesium is even vital for protein synthesis and healthy blood sugar levels, making it a key nutrient for building muscle and helping maintain a healthy body weight.

    Truly, magnesium has something for everyone. An optimal dose is about 350-450 mg per day, and I recommend getting it in small doses—especially through magnesium-rich foods like kelp, seaweed, almonds, cashews, molasses, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, coconut water, aloe vera, barley grass and legumes. Speak with your health care practitioner before beginning any supplement regimen, and to have your magnesium levels tested. 

  • The B Vitamin Breakdown

    Vitamin B1Know that you need B vitamins, but not sure which ones you need (or why?). Here's a breakdown of different types of B vitamins often found in B complexes, and why they're important. Follow the links to learn more about dosage recommendations, dietary sources and supplement suggestions.  

    B1 – Thiamine

    Vitamin B1 plays an integral role in the brain and central nervous system. B1 assists in the synthesis of acetylcholine, which is critical in preventing memory loss and nerve inflammation. B1 is also important for the digestive system, as it supports the production of stomach acid and provides nourishment for all digestive organs, helping us get maximum nutrition from our food.

    Read more about vitamin B1 >

    B2 – Riboflavin

    Vitamin B2 is a powerhouse of energy, and a key member of the B vitamin family. As a potent enzyme, riboflavin helps us to synthesize essential fatty acids and amino acids, and enables better absorption of iron and B6. Riboflavin is so vital to the system that cells cannot grow without it, and deficiency is quickly seen in cells that are frequently reproducing, like the mucous membranes, eyes and hair.

    Read more about vitamin B2 >

    B9 – Folic acid

    This powerful nutrient is used to nourish and repair tissues, and plays a key role in the manufacturing of neurotransmitters that help regulate sleep, pain and mood. Folic acid is one of the more well known B vitamins because of its importance during pregnancy for healthy fetal development, particularly during the first trimester.

    Read more about vitamin B9 >
    B12 - Methylcobalamin

    This energy booster is vital for amino acid synthesis, DNA replication and the manufacturing of neurotransmitters that are partially responsible for stabilizing mood and sleep patterns. Signs of deficiency include gastrointestinal disturbance, hypotension, fatigue, numbness, tingling in extremities, confusion and agitation. B12 is also needed to metabolize essential fatty acids. Prolonged deficiency of B12 can lead to a variety of central nervous system symptoms, and some neurological disturbances can become permanent.

    Read more about vitamin B12 >

  • Fiber's Benefits for Overall Health (Video)

    Fiber is an important inclusion in our diets because of its ability to regulate digestion, lower cholesterol, maintain healthy blood sugar levels and more. Here, Dr. Brad Jacobs talks about good ways to get it through diet, how much to aim for each day and other ways it can be beneficial to your health.

  • Omega-3s for Better Health (Video)

    Learn why omega-3s are an important part of your diet. Here, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog talks about why you should be getting fish in your diet or supplementing with fish oil. Fish oil is especially vital during pregnancy and early childhood because it supports cognitive development and eye and nerve health, and can be great for supporting cardiovascular health in later life. Some evidence has even shown it can help prevent cancer, support weight loss, improve insulin resistance, reduce inflammation and more.

  • The Link Between Probiotics and Optimal Health (Video)

    Don't know why you should be taking probiotics? Here, Dr. Tori Hudson talks about the importance of probiotics for people of all ages. In children, probiotics can be helpful for reducing allergies, asthma, eczema and digestive problems; for adults, different strains can help reduce bowel diseases, bladder infections, vaginal infections and to bring gut flora back into balance after a course of antibiotics.

  • Why Multivitamins Are Vital to Good Health (Video)

    If you're wondering whether multivitamins are necessary in your diet, learn from Dr. Tieraona Low Dog about recent research that has shown them to be instrumental in reducing cancer risk, reducing mortality rates for cancer survivors and much more.

  • Fish Oil & Prostate Health: Deconstructing the Studies (Video)

    Recent studies have concerned some men who take fish oil that it could be negatively impacting their prostate health. Here, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog talks about the study and why it is not a good indicator of the real connection between fish oil and prostate health.

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