The internet is a lolly shop of options when it comes to making a purchase and that includes dietary supplements. How do you know that what you order is going to be what you expect? When it comes to Deer Velvet supplements the options are wide and varied in both quality and in cost.
It is important to me that you are empowered to make good decisions when it comes to buying a Deer Velvet supplement, whether or not that ends up being our product is not the issue here. I care about you and about the authenticity of the industry as a whole.
As with most things knowledge is power!
What are the right questions to ask when comparing products and what answers should you expect?
Here are my top priorities:
Where is it produced?
Where in the world does the raw product come from? Consider the farm practices, the diet of the deer, handling facilities, cold chain of raw product and the government regulations around humane treatment of the deer. In New Zealand it is now possible to trace each stick of velvet back to the farm it came from. In our case its easy, as all our product is from our own farm and we maintain ownership throughout. If a supplier is sourcing raw product at market it will likely be coming from many different producers.
Where is it processed?
For New Zealand processors, ensure they operate under the NZ Govt approved Risk Management Programme (RMP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification where applicable. These processors comply with strict regulations and undergo regular audits.
Is capsule weight quoted as dried weight, or unprocessed weight?
Unprocessed raw product is around 3.7 to 4 times the dried weight. I have noticed a trend in recent years towards quoting unprocessed weight as capsule weight, making it appear you are getting a lot more velvet than you actually are. Be sure to ask this question, and add up how much velvet you are actually getting in a bottle. eg. Canes Deer Velvet contains 80 x 500mg of dried product = 40 gm total x 3.7 would be 148 grams of raw product. If we quoted our capsules in this way our 500 mg capsule would be equivalent to a 1850 mg capsule.
Is the whole antler included? And what grade/s?
Cost can be reduced by varying the quality of the raw product. The most potent and extremely valuable part of the velvet antler, (the tips) may be excluded from the capsules and sold separately. Alternatively cost can be reduced by using cheaper grades of velvet such as damaged grades. A premium supplement will use Super A and A grade velvet, ensuring the whole antler is included and harvested at approximately 55-60 days of growth, which is the optimal time for maximum health benefits.
And what grade/s?
Overgrown velvet weighs heavier and is cheaper per kg, so offers another easy option to produce a cheaper product. Technically it’s still whole antler, with all points included, but is near to becoming long hard anlter. The ratio of tips to antler is much less, and the points are no longer full of the bio active ingredients. This end product may look the similar, and have an attractive price tag, but it will not be nearly as effective as it is nearer to bone. It is likely to be of a lighter colour as the blood supply to the antler has lessened. Some producers hide this by adding dried blood or carob to colour it.
Is it freeze dried or traditionally dried using heat?
While both have their advantages, it is widely acknowledged that freeze drying maintains the bioactive ingredients in their most active form.
Is the hair removed prior to processing?
Velvet antler gets its name because it feels like velvet on the outside due to its covering of fine hair. In fact this is something we don’t want in our capsules. It is a challenging and labour intensive task to remove the hair prior to processing, and not all companies do so. Ask the question!
Are fillers used?
If Velvet is dried and processed properly there should be no need to add any fillers to manage moisture content. If the product has fillers, it begs the question why? I am aware of cases where dried blood, or carob powder are added to the product, and both of these things are similar in appearance to actual Deer Velvet. Be sure to read the list of ingredients so you know what you are buying.
Need more assistance?
I hope that is helpful for you in assessing quality of velvet supplements. Typically, you will get what you pay for, but there are exceptions. If you have any specific questions, or want help to explore the differences between Canes and any other, I would be happy to help you with an honest comparison. Just contact me and I will be in touch.