The AminoFacts Rating System
AminoFacts has devised a Five-Leaf System to help consumers better understand the sourcing and manufacturing practices for amino acid supplement products sold in the United States. Our goal is to inform consumers about which products are sourced from animals.
One leaf represents the least animal-friendly products, and five leaves represent the most plant-friendly products. We score on the following key factors:
Sourcing – We’re friends of animals and the earth, so animal sourced products get fewer leaves than plant sourced products.
Animal Treatment – The more a company conforms with the highest standards of the Whole Foods Five step system, the more leaves they get!
Label Transparency – The more the label shares information on how the supplements are made and sourced, the better. We also confirm that claims are verifiable from leading US certifying bodies, the better.
Manufacturing Processes – In essence, the more natural and chemical-free, the better.
Certifications – Includes products that are certified non-GMO and/or certified vegan by a recognized authority, such as the NSF Non GMO Project, Vegan.org and The Vegan Society.
Lab Testing – When food grade ingredients come from natural sources like plants and animals, purification and testing are critically important. For example, the ingredients retain what the source ingests – from pesticides to heavy metals and more. We rate brands by their compliance with US standards through cGMP.
Please note that we have given neutral scores to brands we are waiting to hear back from!
Sourcing – we’re friends of animals and the earth, so animal sourced scores lower, and plant sourced scores higher. It’s pretty simple!
Animal Treatment – some animal sourced products are dedicated to practices such as cage-free, grass-fed and the like. The more a company conforms with the highest standards of the Whole Foods Five Step system, the higher the score for sourcing.
Label Transparency – the more the label shares information on how the supplements are made and sourced, the better. And the more the information is verifiable and from reliable certifying bodies, the better.
Manufacturing Processes – in essence, the more natural and chemical-free, the better. Extra points for less energy being used as well.
Certifications: includes products that are certified non-GMO and/or certified vegan by a recognized authority, such as NSF Non GMO Project, Vegan.org and The Vegan Society.
Lab Testing – when food grade ingredients come from natural sources like plants and animals, purification and testing is critically important. For example, the ingredients retain what the source ingests – from pesticides to heavy metals and more. The more frequently and consistently manufacturers test for purity, the higher the score.
Chemical Synthesis – a manufacturing method that produces synthetic amino acids in the laboratory by combining different carbon molecules using chemicals. This process is primarily used in pharmaceutical applications.
Collagen – There are both plant-sourced and animal-sourced collagen products, which are very different. Collagen is a protein that is only found in animals – all collagen supplements are sourced from animals. While there is no such thing as plant collagen, there are products that boost the body’s production of collagen using plant-sourced amino acids and other ingredients.
Collagen Builders (also referred to as “boosters” and other words that differentiate it from animal collagen) – these are products that are designed to “build” collagen. Beware of labels that use the term “Plant Collagen.”
Collagen Peptides – the form of collagen in supplements, they are structurally very similar to protein, as both are made up of chains of amino acids that are held together by peptide bonds.
Fermentation – Most plant-based products use a relatively natural method, fermentation, to create the amino acids. This plant-based process is usually less harsh than animal hydrolysis, as it uses natural microorganisms in a broth that creates the amino acids from plant materials. This is used for most animal-sourced supplements.
Hydrolysis – means that a product was manufactured using a process that uses chemicals like hydrochloric acid to break down collagen protein into peptides. This is used for most animal-sourced supplements.
Hydrolyzed – a chemical process that breaks down the collagen protein into peptides, which are short chains of amino acids that are more readily absorbed into the body. The chemicals can be harsh agents such as hydrochloric acid. This is used to manufacture collagen products, which are all animal-sourced.
Pharmaceutical Grade – Pharmaceutical grade supplements are typically formulated by chemical synthesis in a laboratory, and are entirely man-made.
The sources for the amino acids – this could be animal parts (skin, hair, feathers, hooves and the like), or plants (such as corn and sugar) or chemicals (meaning the product is synthesized in a laboratory).
NOTE: At the end of the day, all amino acid molecules are structurally identical regardless of the source, and all are equally effective for their intended health benefits
Other ingredients – includes non-nutrient animal-sourced ingredients such as gelatin (used to make capsules), stearic acid, magnesium stearate and caprylic acid which can be used as lubricants on the coatings.
Certifications – We only accept products that are certified non-GMO and/or certified vegan by a recognized authority, such as the NSF Non GMO Project, Vegan.org and The Vegan Society.
Note 1: that Gluten Free/Dairy Free/Keto and Paleo friendly/ Zero Carbs are claims which are true for virtually every animal-sourced product
Note 2: “No Preservatives” is a claim that is is true of all low-moisture sealed pre-packaged supplements.
Lab testing – ingredients are tested for traces of materials such as chemicals and pesticides.