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Halal Vitamins & Halal Living
Halal Living is a complete way of life. It encompasses everything we do from the moment we wake up until the time we go to bed. When people usually hear the term “halal”, they immediately think of food. However, the term “halal” includes many things other than food. Muslim should always strive to do everything the “halal” way. This includes what we eat and drink, how we earn our income and how we spend it, how we take care of our parents, how we treat other people around us and how we take care of our environment.
Another important factor of Halal Living is taking care of one's physical well-being. Vitamins and dietary supplements have become an essential part of the diet of many people theses days. The busy lifestyle most of us lead means that we don’t always eat a healthy diet. A recent survey showed that, on any given day, 25% or one out of four Canadians buys food or beverages from a fast food restaurant. One way to supplement our diet is to use vitamins and dietary supplements in order to get the nutrients that our bodies need. It is important to note that halal vitamins and dietary supplements should only complement a healthy diet and a regular exercise regimen in order to stay in good health.
Is Your Family Taking Halal Vitamins?
Many Muslims don’t think about the source of the ingredients that are used to make the vitamins and dietary supplements they are consuming on a daily basis. Muslims will check to make sure that the beef or chicken they are eating is halal, but they don’t always stop to think whether the vitamins or dietary supplement they are taking are also halal. We should approach vitamins and dietary supplements the same way we approach food and drinks. We have to make sure it is halal before we consume it.
Non Halal Vitamins & Dietary Supplements
Vitamins and dietary supplement contain ingredients that may not be halal. Gelatin is a very common ingredient used to make capsules. Vitamins and dietary supplements that are formulated as capsules include fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin E as well as some multivitamin formulations.
In addition, capsules are not the only formulation that contain gelatin. Some tablets such as Centrum multivitamin tablets also contain gelatin. Under frequently asked questions on Centrum websites, Centrum indicates that the gelatin used in its formulation is derived from bovine or porcine sources. Centrum UK specifically states that Centrum multivitamins marketed in Europe are not halal because they contain vitamins derived from pig gelatin. Please visit their website at www.centrum.co.uk/faqs for more details.
The main reason for using gelatin derived from pigs is because it is much cheaper and more readily available than bovine (beef) gelatin. So unless the source of the gelatin is clearly stated, such as vegetarian, fish, or bovine (beef), gelatin found in vitamins and dietary supplements is most likely derived partially or entirely from a porcine (pig) source.
Ethanol alcohol is another ingredient found in liquid preparations. A very common product is vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and it can’t be easily dissolved in aqueous solutions, so alcohol is used to dissolve vitamin D in liquid preparations. Other preparations containing alcohol include cold and flu preparations, specifically night formulations. Another common ingredient that may or may not be halal is glycerin. Glycerin is used as an inactive ingredient in many solid and liquid preparations. It can be derived from an animal source (bovine or porcine) or from a vegetarian source. Unless it is clearly stated that the glycerin is derived from a vegetarian source, it is most likely obtained from an animal source and the possibility of being derived from a porcine source is very high.
In addition to the abovementioned ingredients, other inactive ingredients may be derived from a non-halal source and it can be very difficult to know the source of all ingredients in the formulation. Some inactive ingredients such as preservatives and coloring agents are derived from non-halal animal sources. While pharmaceutical companies are obliged to list all ingredients on the product label, they are not obligated to include the source of those ingredients. Calling the manufacturer may solve the issue, but the customer service representative will not always be able to confirm the source of all ingredients in the product you are inquiring about.
How To Ensure Your Family Consumes Only Halal Vitamins
Another way to stay away from ingredients that are not halal is by reading the label very carefully to make sure it doesn’t contain ethanol alcohol and that any gelatin or glycerin comes from a vegetarian or bovine source. But even if the source of the gelatin or glycerin is bovine, it doesn’t mean it is halal. For bovine gelatin to be halal, the cows from which the gelatin is derived must be killed according to Islamic principles, which ensure minimum suffering by the animals as well as healthier and much higher quality meat products. It is also practically impossible to know the source of every single active and inactive ingredient by just reading the label since the sources of these ingredients is not usually stated on there.
The only way to ensure, with 100% certainty, that you are consuming halal vitamins and dietary supplements is by using halal-certified vitamins and dietary supplements. These products are certified halal by a reputable halal-certifying authority in order to ensure that every single ingredient contained in the formulation comes from a halal source. The certifying authority also makes sure that the entire manufacturing process meets stringent halal standards and that none of the halal ingredients are mixed with non-halal ingredients during the manufacturing process (e.g. halal fish oil omega 3 capsules). The certification is typically renewed annually after a site visit each year to ensure that manufacturers continue to adhere to the stringent requirements set forth by the halal-certifying authority. One example of such authorities is the Halal Advisory Group (HAG) in Canada. Please visit their website at www.halaladvisory.ca to learn more about the process of obtaining halal certification for food and pharmaceutical products.
At Halal Living SPC, our mission is to empower you to embrace halal living as a complete way of life while striking a balance between nourishing your body and purifying your soul. The best way to do that when approaching vitamins is to use only halal-certified vitamins & dietary supplements that can help you and your family live halal and wholesome lives, while adhering to our beautiful Islamic teachings.