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How Does NSF Protect Athletes?

By Joel Totoro, RD Thorne Staff, U.S., 04/10/18, 9:45AM MDT

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Key bits of information to consider regarding supplements

Navigating the Supplement World

When supplements are a solution to filling a nutritional gap, there are some key bits of information to consider. The quality control of nutritional supplements does vary considerably, and a consumer may not always get everything they think they are paying for.

Athletes who play at a level where drug testing is involved incur additional risks with nutritional supplementation – the potential of a positive drug test because of supplement contamination.

We believe non-drug tested athletes and casual competitors alike should also have access to supplements free of banned substances.

The Importance of Third-Party Testing 

Nutritional supplement brands can, and should, retain outside independent companies to audit their manufacturing processes and test their products to ensure compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices.

Third-party testing ensures that the company’s products contain the ingredients listed on the label in the amounts listed and don’t contain any harmful ingredients.

Our third-party testing partner, NSF International, has created an advanced certification program for supplements geared toward elite athletes.

NSF International’s Certified for Sport® program tests supplement products for more than 270 substances that have been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

A supplement product that bears the NSF Certified for Sport® seal ensures that the product contains exactly what the label claims it does, in the amounts listed, and doesn’t contain any banned substances or other harmful ingredients.

Who Is NSF International?

Founded in 1955 – NSF International (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation) is an independent and accredited organization that develops public health standards and certification programs to test and certify products and systems designed to protect the world’s food, water, consumer products, and the environment. Their mission is “to protect and improve global human health.”

What is NSF Certified for Sport®? 

In its own words, the program's objective is to certify that sports supplement manufacturers have met NSF's stringent independent certification process guidelines.

A key component of this program is an NSF mark on each product label to indicate to athletes, coaches, and consumers that a supplement has met the NSF's comprehensive Certified for Sport® program guidelines.

While some third-party programs only spot-test products, or conduct only annual tests, NSF Certified for Sport® testing means that every lot of a product that bears their certification is fully tested. Certified products are not allowed to be released by the manufacturer until testing is completed at NSF’s facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Look to the Professionals

NSF International’s Certified for Sport® program has official support and recognition from numerous professional sports organizations:

  • Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association (MLB/MLBPA)
  • The National Football League and the NFL Players Association (NFL/NFLPA)
  • The National Hockey League (NHL)
  • The Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA)
  • The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA)

NSF tests for more than 270 substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

What Does NSF Certified for Sport® Mean for Me?

Each batch of a Thorne product is tested for label claims, enabling athletes and other end consumers to know that what is on the product label is exactly what is in the bottle – and nothing else.

  • NSF’s label-claim testing program is the ONLY American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-Accredited Dietary Supplements Product Certification program in existence.
  • Every product in the NSF testing program is subjected to a formulation, label, and marketing review before certification.
  • Each review includes raw materials supplier verification.

You Can Trust Where Products Come From

  • To participate in the NSF Certified for Sport® program, each facility where a supplement product is manufactured must also participate in NSF’s GMP auditing program.
  • NSF conducts these facility-wide GMP audits twice annually to make certain that the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices are being followed.
  • NSF tests products in the real world – formulation reviews are performed three times a year for ongoing monitoring of samples secured from distribution centers, retail stores, and Internet sites to ensure random selection.

NSF Has a “NO” List

  • NSF limits caffeine to 150 mg per serving and 300 mg daily.
  • NSF will not certify products that make “anabolic,” “testosterone booster,” and “thermogenic fat burner” claims.
  • NSF has a dedicated team for NSF trademark enforcement to ensure companies do not misuse the NSF trademark or authorized NSF text on the product labels or falsely claim that a product has been tested when it was not.
  • NSF will not certify sexual enhancement or weight loss products.

Is Thorne NSF Certified?

In addition to being an NSF GMP-Certified facility, Thorne Research has the most extensive line of NSF Certified for Sport® products. Thorne's mission is to provide quality supplements that every athlete at every level can trust, as well as truthful information about how nutritional supplements fit into an athlete’s lifestyle.

The best nutritional supplement program needs to be personalized to the athlete – one size fits one. A Thorne Research nutritional supplement product that bears the NSF Certified for Sport® trademark ensures that the product contains exactly what the product label claims it does, in the amounts listed – and no harmful or banned ingredients.

To learn more about Thorne Nutritional products and our partnership please click here

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