One of the major differences between pharmaceutical-grade supplements and general or over the counter supplements is the level of government regulation of their manufacture and sale. Pharmaceutical-grade supplements undergo stringent regulations by the Food and Drug Administration, and the pharmaceuticals undergo testing to monitor their contents, safety and efficacy. Over the counter supplements undergo regulation to ensure they cannot harm the general public, but do not undergo the same stringent regulation with respect to contents and efficacy.
Another major difference between pharmaceutical-grade and over the counter supplements are their ingredients. Pharmaceutical grade supplements will often contain a relatively pure sample of active vitamins, minerals and amino acids, allowing doctors to administer a very precise dosage of supplements to meet a patient's needs. Over the counter supplements, on the other hand, may contain a less pure sample of vitamins, and might also contain additives.
Consuming prescription-quality supplements can prove useful for treating specific diseases, as the drug provides a dosage of vitamins without additives, which could affect the vitamin's function. For example, pharmaceutical-grade niacin proves more effective than the over he counter vitamin supplement equivalent in treating high cholesterol, according to a study published in "Post-Graduate Medicine" in 2011.
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