In 2019, the global Halal ingredients market had an estimated value of $45.7 billion. Experts say that this will jump to a staggering $64.8 billion come 2025.
Even in the US, Halal has become an integral part of the food and beverage sectors. In 2016, consumers in the US spent an estimated $20 billion on Halal products. That’s on top of their spending on Halal vitamins and dietary supplements.
You read that right: health supplements can also be Halal or Haram, based on their ingredients. Unfortunately, many of these products contain ingredients that the Qur’an forbids. As such, it’s important you know where they come from and if they are permissible by Islamic law.
To that end, we created this comprehensive guide on what makes Halal vitamins, Halal. Read on to discover the surprising truth about them and how to find legit Halal supplements.
A Quick Overview of Halal and Haram
The literal translation of the word “Halal” is “permissible” or “lawful.” Therefore, “Halal food” is that which abides by Islamic law, as the Holy Qur’an (or Koran) defines it. Meat (like beef) and poultry (such as chicken) can be halal, so long as prepared according to Islamic laws.
The exact opposite of Halal is “Haram,” which means “forbidden.”
Pork is one of the things that the Qur’an forbids and considers Haram. This goes true for anything else that comes from pork (or pigs), including gelatin. Alcohol is also Haram, as the Qur’an forbids intoxicants, and alcohol is intoxicating.
When Are Vitamins Halal?
Halal vitamins do not contain any ingredient that the Qur’an considers Haram. Nothing in them should come from pork, not even the gelatin used for encapsulation. They shouldn’t feature anything that has alcohol content.
Vitamins can only be Halal if their ingredient preparation also followed Muslim laws. Of these, the most important is preparing ingredients in the most hygienic method. The preparation itself should meet international food safety standards.
So, Halal supplements must have undergone clean, contaminant-free production.
It’s also vital to note that Halal vitamins must not have come into contact with any Haram. The manufacturing facility itself must be free from “filth.” Neither should it contain animals (such as pigs or pig products) considered Haram.
Halal vitamins with animal-based ingredients also follow the Halal way of animal slaughter. For example, the animals themselves should be healthy and free of stress. They must also experience the least possible suffering throughout the process.
So, even if a vitamin supplement is free from pork, it may still be Haram based on its manufacture.
That’s why it’s crucial to look for a Halal Institute certification. Only legitimate Halal vitamins for kids and adults have this approval.
The Halal Institute is the body governing Halal food and related products. Halal-certified dietary supplements have gone through rigorous testing and screening.
What Then Are Common Haram Ingredients in Vitamin Supplements?
Gelatin, alcohol, glycerin, and magnesium stearate are common Haram ingredients. They’re still prevalent, though, as they don’t classify as harmful under federal regulations.
As such, it’s crucial to determine the exact sources of these ingredients.
This is especially important if you’re looking for Halal multivitamin gummies. Gummy vitamins are chewable and easy to swallow, thanks to their gelatinous structure. However, what makes them gelatinous may also be the reason they’re Haram.
Gelatin is one of the most common ingredients used in the manufacture of supplements. It’s flavorless, so it helps mask the unpalatable taste of supplement ingredients. It’s also strong and flexible enough to keep the ingredients intact while encapsulated.
Gelatin also helps prevent microbial growth on supplements. Scientists say that this is due to the material’s lack of tryptophan, an essential amino acid. Tryptophan, in turn, triggers microbial growth.
The thing is, studies confirm that most gelatin products are porcine. This means that they come from pork-derived collagen. Some are bovine (cattle-derived), but even these may not be halal.
Pig-derived gelatin is widespread because it costs much less than bovine gelatin. After all, raising beef requires 10 times more resources than raising pigs or poultry. So, most collagen where gelatin comes from is an extract of pork bones.
Alcohol is an excellent solvent, which means that it can dissolve other materials. For this reason, it can extract compounds from non-water-soluble ingredients, such as herbs. That’s why you’ll find alcohol in the ingredient list of many essential oils and herbal resins.
Glycerin is an inactive ingredient in many dietary and vitamin supplements. One of its primary uses is to serve as a sweetener in otherwise bitter solutions. However, its viscosity also makes it an ideal addition to topicals and gel capsules.
What makes glycerin Haram is that it usually comes from porcine sources.
Magnesium stearate is a “flow agent,” emulsifier, binder, and thickener. In tablets or capsules, it keeps the ingredients from sticking to each other. It also enhances the quality and consistency of encapsulated medicines.
Magnesium stearate also acts as a supplement coating lubricant. In this way, it prevents each piece of tablet or capsule from sticking to each other.
However, this inactive ingredient usually comes from pork derivatives.
Halal Vitamins and Their Ingredients
Halal gummy vitamins and other permissible supplements consist of plant-based ingredients. Others contain extracts from Halal-prepared animal sources, such as beef, lamb, and fish. Some vegan-friendly dietary supplements may also be Halal products.
Halal vitamin supplement makers use beef, fish, or chicken as a gelatin source. More than that, they have prepared these animals in accordance with Islamic law. Their product labels clearly state the source of the gelatin and how it is Halal.
Vegetable glycerin (VG) also goes by the name “glycerine” or “glycerol.” VG is similar to animal-derived glycerin, but it comes from coconut, palm, or soybean oil. It also has the same syrup-like consistency and mild, sweet taste.
Halal vitamins that use VG indicate the exact oil source in their product labels. So, if you see a supplement that only says “glycerin,” it likely is a pork derivative.
Halal Magnesium Stearate
Magnesium stearate can come from bovine, poultry, fish, and plant sources. Some Halal dietary supplement makers source them from cocoa and grains, too. If you can’t find Halal vitamins, go with vegan-certified products.
Halal Vitamin Sources
Certain types of vitamins, such as vitamin B1 (thiamine), are present in high amounts in pork. By contrast, beef contains too little vitamin B1. For this reason, some vitamin B supplements use porcine sources.
Fortunately, all B complex vitamins are still in Halal food, such as beef, lamb, and chicken liver. Fish, legumes, milk, and dark leafy greens are also good sources of B vitamins. Halal supplements use these as the sources of their vitamin extracts.
Halal Certification for Vitamins and Dietary Supplements
Before a vitamin supplement can make Halal claims, it must pass verification first. An independent Halal verification party must conduct this test. Only after this screening can the product become fully acceptable to Muslims.
Do note that all Halal claims made by manufacturers require substantiation. Otherwise, they may become liable for legal prosecution.
Halal verification authorities test all ingredients and processes. This means that they check each ingredient that goes into a vitamin supplement. They must confirm that the sources are really Halal and that they didn’t come into contact with Haram.
The same goes for each step in the manufacture of the supplement. For example, all equipment, tools, and devices must always be free of “filth.” The person who handles the products must also abide by Halal procedures.
Only after these can a Halal vitamin brand use “Halal-Certified” on its product labels.
With that said, the simplest way to confirm if a vitamin is Halal is to look for the Halal symbol on its label. This can either be simply “Halal” or “Halal-Certified.”
However, you may also find US-made supplements to feature a logo with an “M” on them. To the left of the M is a crescent moon. This is the trademark of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA).
In the US, IFANCA is the primary Halal-certifying organization. So, seeing its mark on a vitamin supplement means you’re buying Halal.
Always Go With 100% Halal Vitamins and Supplements
As you can see, Halal vitamins and dietary supplements go through rigorous tests. These steps ensure they really have undergone the Islamic way of preparing consumables. So, always make it a habit to check their label for Halal certification and verification.
When in doubt, you can always check with the IFANCA or another Halal certification body.
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