Get the most out of your supplements

Schedule an appointment to learn more!

Book Now

What are medical grade supplements?

Also referred to as pharmaceutical grade supplements, medical grade supplements are labeled as such because they’re held to the same pharmaceutical grade standards as FDA regulated drugs. Per the USP, pharmaceutical grade supplements mustn’t contain any binders, fillers, or inactive additives–they must exceed 99% purity.

What differentiates medical grade from over the counter supplements?

Not all supplements are created equal; there are several discrepancies between medical and store grade supplements, and they can be summed up as a dramatic difference in quality. The specific ways these supplements differ are:


Medical supplements are held to very high standards and third party tested by pharmaceutical companies. OTC supplements are not subject to the same standards, and the FDA has no control over vitamins and supplements sold at health food stores, meaning that many companies are free to advertise at their own discretion.

Additionally, pharmaceutical grade supplements cannot be purchased over the counter; the same way that doctors prescribe drugs, they must also prescribe these supplements.


To protect consumers, pharmaceutical supplement ingredients are third party tested for purity. Because they solely contain vitamins in their most pure natural form, your body will get the greatest possible benefits.

Over the counter nutritional supplements and health supplements often include inferior raw materials that are foreign-sourced and may contain potentially dangerous impurities. They also store supplements in shipping containers that can be exposed to very warm temperatures. These hot temperatures can denature the supplements making them less effective. What’s more, OTC supplements often use synthetically produced vitamins (e.g. folate can be produced from folic acid).


When it comes to supplements, sometimes less is more.

Bioavailability refers to how the body absorbs a drug or supplement. Synthetic materials are already difficult to absorb, and to overcrowd them in a single pill the way many multivitamins do means they’re unlikely to dissolve before they’re through the digestive system. A pharmaceutical grade supplement is usually absorbed very effectively because of its pure, natural, targeted ingredients.


Potency also has a big impact on absorption and nutritional benefits. Vitamin doses in OTC products are often low, but this is masked by misleading marketing that advertises the whole product not the individual elements.

Each pharmaceutical supplement contains a higher potency of its vitamins, and is tested to make sure the ingredient amounts exactly match what’s on the label. There is no wiggle room for discrepancies between what’s in the bottle versus what’s on the bottle.

Why do doctors use pharmaceutical supplements?

Pharmaceutical grade supplements are offered by many integrative functional medicine doctors for the same reasons people take over the counter nutritional supplements: they are a safe and natural way to fill in nutritional gaps, boost the immune system, enhance an already healthy diet, and promote general well-being.

Integrative doctors are seeking to alter their patients’ biochemistry to restore balance. Often prescription medications are used as a quick fix for a symptom, which can be necessary, however a pharmaceutical grade supplement (or many) is usually recommended to help correct imbalances throughout the body.

Get the most out of your supplements

Schedule an appointment to learn more!