Testing 1…2… Because Quality Is Everything

Mar 6, 2023 | Products

Quality Is in Our Roots 

Nature’s Sunshine’s dedication to the highest quality standards could be called obsessive. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.  

Since the beginning, quality has been one of our core values. We believe that quality people and processes fundamentally drive our ability to create quality supplements. And we have made these two a priority for decades, investing millions of dollars annually in personnel, technical equipment and lab materials that keep us on the cutting edge of product formulation, quality control and methods development.  

Talk about great people. Our Quality Assurance and R&D teams include Ph.D. chemists, biologists, medical doctors, health science researchers, expert formulators, technical document controllers and more. 

Quality people, products and processes are part of our culture, and they work in harmony to help us share the healing power of nature with the world. 

Always Start with the Best 

Quality begins at the source, and our experts scour the world to determine the most potent and biologically active forms of raw materials so we can create the greatest supplements on earth. We use non-GMO, vegan and organic ingredients whenever possible.  

We also believe in showing up in person. Our extreme vendor audits include inspecting facilities, equipment and cleaning techniques, checking documentation and regulatory requirements, and ensuring that each supplier adheres to Good Manufacturing Practices.  

All of this work helps us guarantee that only the cleanest, purest ingredients will become part of our products. We regularly reject raw material that does not meet our exacting standards – even when other will gladly accept and use them! 

If You Want It Done Right, Do It Yourself 

We develop, manufacture, test and store our products in our own world-class manufacturing facility. Controlling the entire process allows us to know exactly what’s in our products and what isn’t.  

Comprehensive Quality Testing 

Using four specialized laboratories—herb, vitamin, mineral and microbial—Nature’s Sunshine continuously tests both incoming materials and finished products to ensure that everything meets our stratospheric standards. Our scientists use advanced analytical equipment and expert training to ensure that purity and potency are maintained throughout every step of the production process.  

We have more than 600 tests and assessments at our disposal to examine the quality, purity and potency of our raw materials and finished products. These include:

  • Microbial Testing. We test samples of every lot of raw materials and finished goods to check for the presence of microbes, including pathogens. 
  • High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC). We identify plant material, including genus, species and plant part (stem, root, leaf, etc.). We also check for adulterants in the botanical powders. 
  • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR). We scan raw material and finished products to verify composition and to check for any adulterants or contaminants. 
  • Ash Testing. We use an ashing oven to burn samples at 700 degrees Celsius. This enables us to detect soil, glass or metal that may be present. 
  • Geiger Counter. We use this tool to look for several different forms of radioactive contamination. 
  • Particle Size and Tap Density. These tests make sure raw material can be processed according to weight and dosage specs. 
  • UV Vis Spectroscopy: This equipment quantifies purity and potency of raw materials and guarantees label claims. 
  • Inductively Coupled Plasma/Mass Spectrometer (ICP/MS). This equipment measures all minerals listed on the periodic table – including heavy metals – up to parts per trillion. We test raw materials for mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead. We also quantify mineral levels in finished products, like multivitamins and minerals. 
  • High Performance Liquid Chromatography with multiple detectors. HPLC tests the purity and potency of active compounds such as vitamins and amino acids in raw materials and finished products. It helps us verify label claims. 
  • Gas Chromatography with FID/ECD Detectors. We use this equipment to test for purity and to measure the potency of fatty acids like ALA, DHA and EPA.  
  • Gas Chromatography with MS Detectors. This testing will reveal any solvent residue or pesticides that may be present. 
  • Microscopes, petri dishes, incubators, etc. These tools are needed to test every lot of raw material and every lot of finished product for any microbes, including yeast, mold, salmonella, E. coli and staph.
GREEN Herb lab equipment and tests
GRAY Mineral lab equipment and tests
ORANGE Vitamin lab equipment and tests
RED Micro lab equipment and tests


Setting the Bar

Nature’s Sunshine has played an integral role in the development of quality standards and expectations in the nutritional supplement industry. Over the years, our in-house Methods Development team has designed and validated new testing procedures that have been adopted by both competitors and collaborators. These include:

  • Using HPLC to measure parthenolide levels in feverfew herb 
  • Using RP-Liquid Chromatography and Mass Spec to determine levels of huperzine A in Chinese club moss 
  • Using HPLC to measure anthocyanin and anthocyanidin levels in bilberry and grape skin extracts 
  • Using HPLC in a collaborative study to measure glucosamine in raw materials and finished supplements 
  • Using LC-UV and LC/MS in a collaborative study to detect possible botanical contamination with aristolochic acid 
  • Measuring the effects of artemisia, paw paw and other herbs on flukes

We don’t just meet the standards, we continue to truly set them for others to follow.  

Nature’s Sunshine chemists have also served as collaborators for the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC). Directed by a technical committee, this group selects laboratories with experience in a particular subject or method and requests their assistance in actively collaborating on a study. Our scientists have worked with both government and industry officials to develop and test new analytical methods, to validate data, and accept or reject proposed methods.

Full references to key published NSP methods:

    • Zhou Joseph ZiQi, Kou, X. L and Stevenson D.; “Rapid Extraction and High-Performance Liquid Chromatographic Determination of Parthenolide in Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)”. J. Agri. Food Chem., 1999, 47(3),1018-1022
    • Yang, Q. P.; Kou, X. L.; Fugal, K. B.; McLaughlin, J. L. “Determination of Huperzine A in Formulated Products by RP-Liquid Chromatography using Diode Array and Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometric Detection.” Phytomedicine, 10: 200-205, 2003
    • Zhang, Z.; Kou, X. L.; Fugal, K. B.; McLaughlin, J. L. “Comparison of HPLC Methods for Determination of Anthocyanins and Anthocyanidins in Bilberry and Grape Skin Extracts.” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2004; 52: 688-691
    • “Determination of Glucosamine in Raw Materials and Dietary Supplements Containing Glucosamine Sulfate and/or Glucosamine Hydrochloride by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography with FMOC-Su Derivatization-AOAC Collaborative Study.” J AOAC Int. 2005; 88(4): 1048-1058 (Collaborators: Xiaolan Kou, Qiuping Yang etc.)
    • “Determination of aristolochic acid I in botanicals and dietary supplements potentially contaminated with aristolochic acid I using LC-UV with confirmation by LC/MS: collaborative study.” J AOAC Int. 2007; 90(4); 925-933 (Collaborators: Xiaolan Kou etc.)
    • Jorge F. S. Ferreira, Paul Peaden, Jennifer Keiser; In vitro trematocidal effects of crude alcoholic extracts of Artemisia annua, A. absinthium, Asimina triloba, and Fumaria officinalis. Parasitology Research.  2011 vol:109 iss:6 pg:1585 -1592
    • Muriel Cuendet, Carol P. Oteham, Richard C. Moon, William J. Keller, Paul A. Peaden, and John M. Pezzuto; Dietary Administration of Asimina triloba (Paw Paw) Extract Increases Tumor Latency in N-Methyl-N-nitrosourea Treated Rats, Pharmaceutical Biology, 46(1&2), 3-5, 2008.
    • Peaden, P,; Review on the “Carotenoids Handbook” for the Plant Science Bulletin, 51(4), 2005

Great Liquids Start with Great Water 

Our manufacturing facility has a state-of-the-art water purification system that supports our liquid line. Reverse osmosis technology ensures that the water in our liquid products is clean, pure and delicious. 

The purification system has four stages. 

  1. Culinary water flows through a carbon bed filtration system to remove chlorine and any other chemicals that may be in the water supply. 
  2. Water moves through a softening system to reduce mineral content. 
  3. Softened water passes through a reverse osmosis water purifier and an ultraviolet sterilizer before it is sent to a 1,200-gallon storage tank. 
  4. Purified water flows through a continuously circulating loop that runs throughout the manufacturing plant. Before it enters the distribution loop, it is filtered again by a 1.0 micron pre-filter, another UV sterilizer and a 0.2 micron absolute filter. This pure, filtered water is used in all of our liquid products and for cleaning. 

        Air Quality 

        In an age where we now second-guess anyone who coughs or clears their throat, you can’t be too careful about the air you breathe and work in. So you’ll be glad to know that our work to prevent contamination at every step along the way includes the air inside the building. 

        Our state-of-the-art air filtration system helps eliminate the possibility of airborne contaminants throughout the facility. The system passes 100 percent outside air through high-efficiency filtration and into the rooms of processing areas. Filters remove dust, dust mites, algae spores, bacteria, fabric lint, human dander, plant spores, mold spores, pollen and more.  

        The air is then exhausted through a dust-collection system and is not recirculated into any other areas. It also uses a system of pressure differentials in key areas to control the airflow and limit the potential of cross contamination.  

        The Impressive Bottom Line 

        The world’s best supplements come from premium botanicals, which are the result of a marriage of quality vendors and proficient testing. Our team of respected and dedicated scientists assess purity, potency and efficacy all along the way so we can bring you – and help you share – exactly what you deserve: the Earth’s finest natural supplements.