Halal Vitamins and Supplements: Pork-Free, Alcohol-Free and 100% CanadianWritten by Sawitri Mardyani
Although we don't often think of halal ingredients when it comes to non-food products, it’s an issue not to be overlooked when in comes to pills such as medicines, vitamins and supplements. Most Muslims would cringe at the thought of eating pork or pork products. Yet when we take pills covered in porcine (pig) gelatin, that'e exactly what's happening.
Aside from pork-based ingredients, some pills contain dyes that come from insects. Many vitamins and supplements contain other inactive ingredients such as magnesium stearate and glycerin, which can come from animal or vegetable sources. And some liquid formulations of vitamin D contain ethyl alcohol (up to 65%).
Ironically, it was his experience living and working as a pharmacist in a Muslim country that brought Dr. Ahmed Zikri's attention to the issue of non-halal ingredients in pharmaceuticals. It wasn't everyone's diligence in ensuring that all ingredients were halal that inspired him. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
As an American who received his pharmacy training in the United States, Zikri grew accustomed to reading ingredients on labels and checking if things were halal or not. When he started working in the Middle East a few years ago, he noticed that people take it for granted and simply assume that everything is halal. But when he saw vitamin brands like Centrum, which are known to contain gelatin extracted from pigs, on the pharmacy shelves, he knew their assumptions were wrong.
Being a pharmacist, Zikri is more aware than most about the ingredients that go into the manufacturing of drugs, vitamins and supplements. He knows that unfortunately, some of these ingredients either come from pigs or from animals that were not slaughtered in a halal way.
He looked deeper into the issue and found that there were a lot of medicines and products that were made from pork-based ingredients. When he called some of the companies asking if they could create a halal alternative, the response was often that there simply hasn't been the demand for that. So there's little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to change their formulations if the market isn't asking for it. Yet Zikri knew that nearly 2 billion Muslims in the world needed products that were free from haram (Islamically impermissible) ingredients.
Rather than continue to complain and lobby companies to create halal alternatives, he decided to, as he describes it, "become a part of the solution". So he launched Halal Living SPC, with the mission to empower Muslims to "embrace halal living as a complete way of life while striking a balance between nourishing your body and purifying your soul."
Starting small, within his area of expertise, he's now released a line of halal-certified vitamins and supplements.
Health Canada Approval and Halal Certification
He searched all over North America looking for a manufacturer that could create the products he wanted. He wanted something with quality ingredients in the formulations he knew were best based on his pharmacological training. The product also had to be manufactured through a process that could be certified halal. His search brought him to a manufacturing facility in the GTA, making Halal Living SPC products 100% Canadian.
Halal Living's line of vitamins are approved by Health Canada and certified to be halal by the Halal Advisory Group. The Halal Advisory Group's standards are trusted and inspected yearly by the Department of Islamic Development in Malaysia (JAKIM), which is the agency responsible for halal certification in Malaysia.
So far, Halal Living produces six halal certified products:
- Multivitamin + Minerals Tablets
- Prenatal Multivitamin Tablets
- Children's Multivitamin Chewable Tablets
- Fish Oil Omega-3 Capsules
- Calcium + D Tablets
- Vitamin D (1000 IU) Tablets
Why Vitamins and Supplements?
As a pharmacist, Zikri says, "with a healthy and balanced diet, you shouldn't have to take vitamins". Yet he acknowledges that "because of the lifestyle that we lead... many people do not eat enough fruits and vegetables to get their recommended amount of nutrients." A recent poll conducted last year indicated that, on any given day, one out every four Canadians buys food or beverages from a fast-food restaurant.
Multivitamins contain a variety of vitamins and minerals to supplement those that might be deficient in your diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and important for hair, skin and nails. The American Heart Association recommends that people eat 2-3 servings of fish a week. If you're not able to do that, or you don't like the taste of fish, Fish Oil Omega-3 Capsules are a good way to get your recommended daily intake.
Calcium is not only important for strong bones and teeth and the prevention of osteoporosis, but also for our heart, muscles and nerves to function properly and for blood to clot. Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium. Our bodies can produce Vitamin D from sunlight. Unfortunately, our long Canadian winters and need to dress modestly make this a limited source of Vitamin D for us. Alternatively, we can get Vitamin D from food or supplements.
Beyond Halal Vitamins
For Zikri, Halal Living isn't just about the ingredients in vitamins. It is a complete way of life. Halal Living SPC is committed to promoting sustainability by offering its products in 100% recyclable packages offering three month-supply or longer to decrease the amount of plastic bottles consumed per customer per year. The company also offers discounts on orders more than one bottle to encourage customers to place less orders per year to minimize the amount of fuel used for delivering the products to each customer.
Halal Living SPC is also committed to giving back to those in need. The company has supported a number of organizations in Canada, which include Islamic Relief Canada, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Canada Food Bank, Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto and the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation in Canada.
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