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Last updated: January-14,2023

Is Your Supplement Real or Fake? - Health Quest Podcast Interview with Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG)

Finding high-quality nutraceutical products you can trust is always a matter of debate in the current marketplace. Flooded with myriad nutraceuticals and companies that manufacture them, it is hard to make the right choices.

You can find them in every store with all kinds of claims. And yet, we are uncomfortable because we know that we can't trust all of those resources.

To help understand and navigate these testy waters, Steve Lankford, the host of The Health Quest Podcast, brings on a heavyweight in the nutraceutical industry – Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG). Gene is the Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs here at NutraScience Labs and is also a Professor of Nutraceutical Science and Huntington University of Health Sciences. 

With two Master’s degrees in nutrition and herbal medicines, respectively, and 42 years of award-winning experience in the dietary supplement industry, Gene provides guidelines on choosing the right nutraceutical supplement manufacturing company.

He has expertise from the manufacturers’ perspective as well - the people who actually buy the raw materials, manufacture the products, and create the brands we purchase. As a formulator of innovative and evidence-based dietary supplements, Gene asks us to pay attention to two words - innovative and evidence-based.

This podcast excerpt provides valuable insights and can help brand owners and consumers make a value judgment on dietary supplements and the nutraceutical industry as a whole.

You can listen to the entire podcast episode by clicking on the image below:

Is Your Supplement Real or Fake video

FDA's Enforcement of Supplement Regulations

Steve: Is it fair to say that the FDA has not done a very good job enforcing supplement regulations? Are they a big part of this problem?

Gene: While working for manufacturers, FDA visits and inspections have been the norm but may not be frequent enough. According to FDA representatives, they are just understaffed and do not have enough people to enforce it. So, it may sometimes seem as if the dietary supplement industry is unregulated.

While there are plenty of regulations, the enforcement of the regulations is a different issue. Yes, the FDA may need to do more. But the lack of funds from the government, an ongoing issue, is a part of that problem too. So, FDA enforcement aside, we have to take things into our own hands and make sure that the products we're making are real.

Steve: So, good regulations exist, and our industry can function effectively within the framework of those regulations. Good companies follow these regulations, but the outliers who are not in it for the long-term value of their company, the consumers, and the marketplace, in general, are the ones we have to watch out for. Customers need to learn how to identify companies that do adhere to the standards, right?

Gene: There are several really good companies that play by the rules, and there are other companies that just fly under the radar unless they get reported to the FDA. They provide products that are not evidence-based and lack rigorous testing.

Gene's Reasons for Foraying into Nutrition and Its Science

Steve: Gene, could you tell us a little bit about your history and what led you into this passion for nutrition and science?

Gene: My story began before I was born. My maternal grandmother had lymphosarcoma. In the early 50s, the only medical treatment was surgery. If you remove it enough times and it keeps coming back, you tell the patient to put their affairs in order.

My grandmother was given six months to live. She was referred to a doctor named Max Gerson, MD, who believed that the body could heal itself if it had the right nutrition. Her multiple tumors disappeared. When she died, it was not from a degenerative disease.

It inspired me. That's why I ended up getting into this business – to understand nutrition and the role that dietary supplements could play. In this business, I started out doing retail, followed by outside sales. Then I moved on to education and formulation.

I've seen the profound role of well-formulated dietary supplements in a person's health and wellness program. I've also seen how people can get very discouraged from using supplements when they're not well-formulated. It gives the industry a bad name.

I went to school to learn what I needed to learn to be effective at what I do. Now, I work with NutraScience Labs - manufacturers of dietary supplements.

A Little Background on NutraScience Labs

Steve: Tell us just a little bit about NutraScience Labs and the breadth of their involvement.

Gene: NutraScience Labs was originally founded in 2001. It used to be known as Nutricap Labs. We've been part of a larger company called Twinlab Consolidation Corporation, a family of different dietary supplement-related companies.

NutraScience Labs is headquartered in Long Island in New York. It provides dietary supplement brand owners with best-in-class contract manufacturing, packaging, labeling, and fulfillment services. The staff collectively possesses over 120 years of nutraceutical industry experience, 42 of which are from me. We produce and ship over 3,000 unique products from our facility every year.

People interested in starting their own dietary supplement line can request a free supplement manufacturing price quote or call 855 492 7388. They can speak to our representatives, who are fully trained to help those interested in starting their own brand.

What Sets Contract Manufacturing Services at NutraScience Labs Apart in This Industry?

Steve: Many companies will not invest the millions of dollars that it takes to set up quality labs, quality manufacturing, and FDA-certified facilities to manufacture their products. They're more interested in getting their products to the marketplace and, NutraScience Labs fills that void for them. That's what it means to be a contract manufacturer, correct?

Gene: That's it, precisely! One of the things that NutraScience Labs does besides the high-quality manufacturing, packaging and, labeling is offering fulfillment services. We can keep the product at our facility, ship it out to wherever. You don't have to have your own warehouse. NutraScience Labs has everything that you need to get the product produced and distributed.

Most contract manufacturers will, if you handle them a formula, make that product for you. But if you want a product for menopause or prostate health or whatever, they don't do that. They won't formulate it for you because they don’t have people who do conceptual formulation.

NutraScience Labs offers that service as well. And generally, that's me doing that formulation. So, it's the entire process of formulation, manufacturing, and fulfillment that NutraScience Labs offers. It's a little unique.

A World of Expert Nutraceutical Industry Insights - The NutraScience Labs Blog

Steve: I was going to suggest to my listeners they may want to go to the website and look around. You don't have to be a supplement manufacturer to gain insight from some of the content that you have on your site. You talk about what products are trending in the marketplace and why they're trending. Tell us about the website just a little bit.

Gene: The website, besides just providing business-type information, has a lot of content, unlike a regular dietary supplement company that's trying to sell a very specific branded product. You can learn about a given nutraceutical. You can learn about trends that are going on. Every single article, blog post, and video has general appeal and applies to just about any brand out there, assuming they're using good materials.

The information is usable across the board for consumers and brand owners to explain, teach, help, and educate about nutraceuticals and how they work with the science and the trends. It's important to understand the trends because that shows what's popular, where the market is, where the research is focused currently, and what makes sense.

Sometimes you get something that's popular, and there's no science behind it. It just happens to be popular for one reason or another. But, even knowing that information can be extremely valuable.

We're very proud and excited to offer that kind of information to the public. That's what people need to understand. That's what they need to know about. And that's part of what we're here to provide.

September 8th, 2021

About the Author:

Gene Bruno

Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG) - Mr. Bruno possesses over 43 years of dietary supplement industry experience. With a Master's degree in nutrition and a second Master's degree in herbal medicine, he has a proven track record of formulating innovative, evidence-based dietary supplements. Mr. Bruno currently serves as both the Senior Director of Product Innovation at Twinlab Corporation and Professor of Nutraceutical Science at Huntington University of Health Sciences.