How do you have confidence in your probiotic?

Natasha Trenev

Digestive Support

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We take probiotics because we have all gotten the message that probiotics are important for health. Probiotic supplements are everywhere. There are hundreds of supplements and a growing list of fortified foods claiming probiotics added. Probiotics are becoming commoditized. The good side of this is that consumers are becoming aware of the benefits of probiotics and have shown a great desire to consume probiotics in search of better health. There is great benefit to be had. The downside is that the market is now flooded with products and many, if not most, of the new products on the market are deficient in some way. Some, seriously deficient.

The increased interest in probiotics is certainly justified. In the last decade we have seen amazing advances in the clinical science of probiotics. We are now realizing that probiotics are much more than a digestive aid. Our bacteria are our partners in life and health. We need them as much as they need us. We now know that probiotics influence digestion, mood, immunity and in fact can influence nearly all of our biology. We have discussed some of these benefits  in previous interviews with Natasha.If you want to learn more, listen to our previous interviews with Natasha. To learn more about Natren products go to

NPQAAThis interview is not about Natren as a company or even Natren products, except to say that Natren products exemplify the highest standards for probiotics. This interview is about the need for a common probiotic standard for all products in the marketplace. There is such a standard but it is largely ignored by the probiotic industry. This standard was adopted by the natural products industry back in the 1990’s when the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 was passed. This standard was the natural products industry promise to self-regulate. Natasha was a primary mover of this effort. Read the probiotic section of this report.

Fast forward 20 years and we now have explosive interest in probiotics. Many supplement companies have added probiotics to their supplement line. But the sad truth is that most companies do not follow the probiotic standards for product or labeling. Some may wonder if the standard is outdated. It is not. It is more necessary than ever.

BacteriaIn this interview Natasha will introduce us to the industry adopted probiotic standards. As you examine this issue you will gain the knowledge about how to judge and choose a probiotic. Natasha will explain how and why these standards are important and how consumers can make judgments based on those standards. If consumers don’t know what to look for then it is nearly impossible to make an informed choice. This is a challenge for all consumers of nutritional products. We have discussed this several times here at  The problems with dietary supplements has been well documented and unfortunately good companies are harmed by subpar or even illegal products in the marketplace. Until the FDA has corralled the cheaters, consumers must become wary and educated. Good companies with great products are out there. You need to learn the difference. Good companies want to earn your trust because they do everything possible to created safe and effective products. Bad companies, or even careless companies don’t care about quality, effectiveness or even safety.

So what can you look for on a probiotic label based on the recommendation in the Quality And Safety Standards by NPQAA (Natural Products Quality Assurance Alliance, now defunct). Here’s the condensed version:

  1. Potency should be guaranteed until expiration date for each strain (species). Guarantees based on potency at the time of manufacture are not appropriate to assure consumers that the product is potent up to the expiration date.
  2. What is the minimum number of colony forming units (CFUs) per serving size? Measurements by weight are not a valid methods of counting bacteria.
  3. If there is more than one strain in a proprietary formula, each strain should be listed by potency in decreasing order.
  4. Proper storage conditions should be listed on the label. Proper storage conditions should be followed during all stages of the distribution chain. This is especially important for so-called shelf stable products. If potency is guaranteed based on proper storage and handling, then it is fair to ask, what is acceptable storage and handling? Is the product  testing at full potency under real world conditions at expiration date? Personally, as a consumer it is helpful to me to know how the product was handled before I received it and how should I as the consumer handle and store the product.
  5. Laboratory data of cell strains, potency and scientific documentation should be maintained by the manufacturer and made available upon request. This transparency is becoming more and more important in the marketplace of all nutritional supplements.
  6. Microorganisms should be identified by genus and strain.

Here are two of my own standards:
7. If there are claims for specific benefits, then what is the source of those claims? Here is a good test for any health benefit claim. When you hear or read about some benefit that sounds good or better than anything else or even equal to other products, then this is a fair question to ask: “How do you know your product has the stated benefits? Are there clinical studies showing this benefit? Do you have studies on your specific product? What is the evidence of confidence?
8. Look for third party, independent and neutral certifications. As in most things, not all certification are equal. Know who you trust.

Here is how a Natren label complies with the above identified standards. Labels like this reflect a commitment to the highest quality because of commitment to transparency and consumer trust.

Healthy Trinity

It is clear that many companies choose not to adhere to the voluntary standards. In reality most companies do not manufacturer their probiotics. Natasha’s mission is to elevate the standard for probiotics so that all companies are producing products and information that can be relied upon by consumers. Consistency in the probiotic industry would go a long way to creating consumer confidence.

What is clear for consumers is that Natren is one company that adheres to this standard. You have to decide if these issues are important to you. Like other nutrition movements that started with consumer grass roots (think Organic and NonGMO movements driven by consumer interest), Natasha envisions a time when consumers will become knowledgeable and demand higher quality products and reward companies that set the higher standard. Do not expect the FDA or FTC to set things straight. Not anytime soon it seems.

Natasha brought probiotics to the marketplace over 40 years ago. She was a champion for probiotics then and we all enjoy the benefits of probiotics in no small part to Natasha. Now she is again seeking to raise the standards by which all probiotics are judged. There are big stakes for consumers and the probiotic industry as a whole. Will the probiotic standard drop to the lowest common denominator? Or will high standards benefit all companies and consumers? This will be determined by consumers. As consumers become committed to probiotics will they demand better products? This is the hope. Natasha is once again a champion for probiotics. Read Natasha’s statement on the Probiotic Labeling Standards.

Now is a golden age of nutritional science and probiotics are no exception. Learn about the benefits of probiotic by following the science. Seek the highest quality products and see what they can do for you. Never assume all products are equal and continue your exploration until you are satisfied.

About Natasha Trenev
Probiotic pioneer Natasha Trenev has been committed to formulating and manufacturing probiotics of unparalleled quality for 30 years. Natren has willingly subjected itself to the most stringent international manufacturing quality control process, undergoing extensive testing from raw materials to finished probiotic products.  The Trenev Process® uses a unique process to substantially increase the probiotic activity, while eliminating the need for additives. To listen to my previous interviews with NatrenNatasha: CLICK HERE.






What you need to know about vitamin K2,  Natto MK-7

Dr. Ralph Holsworth

Bone Support

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Several studies demonstrate the great health benefits of Vitamin K2 (menaquinone-7), especially for bone and cardiovascular health. Vitamin K2 is optimal for the body to utilize calcium in order to build healthy, strong bones and to inhibit calcium deposits in the arteries.  K2 is clearly a nutrient that has powerful benefits for two serious and common health concerns.

How do we know that vitamin K2 has these benefits? It is because of the clinical studies that explore how K2 exerts it benefits.  Natto MK-7 is one of the clinically studied raw materials that I am very fond of. It is extracted naturally from the Japanese food natto. This is the same source for the clinically studied nattokinase, previously discussed with Dr. Ralph Holsworth. In this interview Dr. Holsworth will discuss the clinical benefits of vitamin K2. If cardiovascular health is your concern you should also listen to my previous interview with Dr. Holsworth on nattokinase. Both nattokinase and menaquinone are extracted from natto and both are beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Bone Health (excerpt from
Bone HealthThough our bones may seem static, our skeletal system is very much alive and constantly reshaping. In our bones, there are continuous opposing forces of bone deconstruction and bone reconstruction that contribute to this dynamic reshaping process. Two major cells attribute to this: osteoblasts (cells that build bone) and osteoclasts (cells that break down bone). As osteoblasts continually incorporate calcium to build bone matrix and osteoclasts break down bone, both cell types are regulated by only a handful of proteins: Gla protein, S protein, and Osteocalcin. The activity of all three of these proteins is dependent on Vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 modifies the proteins to cause osteoblast activation and osteoclast inhibition. This, in turn, allows calcium incorporation into the bone matrix to improve bone strength. When this balance of bone matrix construction and deconstruction is thrown off towards deconstruction, weakening of the bones (osteoporosis) occurs and many health complications can arise.

Osteoporosis in femur bone, human bone anatomy.

Osteoporosis in femur bone, human bone anatomy.

Osteoporosis is a disease in which weakening of the bones causes increased risk of fracture. Poor diet, aging, low body weight, low levels of sex hormones (menopause), smoking, and some medications can increase the risk for osteoporosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Osteoporosis affects over 5.3 million men and women over the age of 50 in the United States. Due to the disease’s prevalence, there has been extensive research. As a result, there have been many studies showing Vitamin K2 as an effective means to help patients re-strengthen their bones.

Heart Support

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A team of medical doctors looked at 53 patients with hemodialysis deficiencies and severe arterial calcification. They supplemented these patients daily with Vitamin K2 and found remarkable improvements. They found significantly decreased calcification of patients’ arteries.

For reasons that are still currently being elucidated, post-menopausal women have problems with coronary calcification. In a study conducted in Europe, scientists observed 564 post-menopausal women and found a direct relationship between VitaminK2 consumption and reduced coronary calcification. The authors go on to propose Vitamin K2 as an important preventative solution for cardiovascular disease.

A large research study looked at 4807 human subjects over the course of 7-10 years and observed the risk of Coronary Heart Disease with respect to Vitamin K2 intake. After taking into consideration variable factors, they found an inverse relation in Vitamin K2 intake and CHD. They conclude with, “These findings suggest that an adequate intake of menaquinone (Vitamin K2) could be important for CHD prevention.” End excerpt

Natto MK-7
Vesta_Natto_MK7Natto MK-7 brand of menaquinone-7 is a clinically studied form of K2. It is a natural form extracted from Japanese fermented soybeans (natto). It is the natural form that is most effective for human health.

  • No Solvents/Additives/Preservatives are used, it is non GMO and free of allergens.
  • Clinically-proven to support bone & cardiovascular health
  • Kosher Certified – Your assurance of purity

When you want to have confidence in the supplements that you take, then look for the clinically studied and validated ingredients. Then use the supplement in that form and take the clinically studied dose. Good companies do many things right to ensure the quality, purity, safety and effectiveness of their products. Good companies want you to know about their brands. If you are willing to do a little homework, you will eventually discover the distinctions about products and you will have more confidence as you go forward. Quality nutrients taken consistently over time will provide benefits. This is your process of discovery.

Dr. Ralph E. Holsworth, Jr., DO
Emergency Medicine
Ralph E. Holsworth, Jr. received his Doctor of Osteopathy in 1997. He is a board-certified osteopathic family physician previously serving rural and under-served regions of New Mexico and Colorado . Prior to his medical training, Dr. Holsworth served as environmental scientific consultant with the US EPA and private sector firms providing technical assistance on Superfund site evaluation, remediation and environmental cleanups. He received his Baccalaureate of Science in 1985. In 1977-1981, Dr. Holsworth served in the United States Navy. Dr. Holsworth presently works at the Tahoma Clinic in Renton , Washington with Dr. Jonathan Wright, and treats a wide variety of health conditions, with special interest in cardiovascular conditions (especially problems related to increased blood viscosity), auto-immune problems, diabetes, and environmental illness. With a long-time interest in integrative and functional medicine approaches to traditional medicine. Dr. Holsworth has practiced medicine in a wide variety of settings in both hospital and private clinical practice. Dr. Holsworth has served as honorary professor, Department of Biology, at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and is involved in clinical research. He is on the board of the NeuroLipid Research Foundation. He is the Scientific Adviser for Vesta Ingredients.Vesta Ingredients



209 – Rethinking the Multiple Vitamin – My Interview with Dr. Erin Stokes

This interview is largely about the new approach to multi-vitamins. Dr. LowDog and MegaFood worked long and hard to create products that will meet most of your basic nutritional needs. Dr. Erin Stokes will discuss the rationale behind the formulas. The approach is basically this; your multi-vitamin is two per day and is age and gender specific. There is no calcium in the multi-vitamin as calcium is impossible to get in significant amounts in most multis. MegaFood has a separate calcium bone formula that is designed to let you adjust the calcium to your specific needs and to get enough calcium to make a difference in the formula. Separating the multi from the calcium helps ensure you will get the best amount of both.

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208 – Building Bone Strength and Flexiblity – My Interview with Richard Passwater Jr.

One of the most significant nutrient for bone health is orthosilicic acid, sold as BioSil. BioSil is a form of silica that has been shown through clinical studies to increase the bodies production of collagen. Collagen is the protein that forms the framework for bones. Collagen provides for flexibility and calcium provides the strength. Bones should be strong and flexible, which helps bone withstand stress. Increasing collagen throughout the body can improve structure throughout the body. BioSil has also been clinically shown to support skin, hair and nails.

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207 – Harnessing the Power of Broccoli – My Interview with Anthony Thomas

After this interview you will understand much more about the benefits of sulforaphane. You will also understand why eating broccoli will not give you the higher levels of sulforaphane needed. You will learn why it is actually the broccoli sprouts that are the best source. You will also learn why making a broccoli supplement is not as easy as it sounds. Broccoli products are not created equal. This interview will help you understand the distinctions between products and what is necessary to create a safe, beneficial and effective product.

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206 – The Probiotic Cure – My Interview with Martie Whittekin

The world of probiotic science is growing rapidly. One of the challenges for every consumer is to learn about the science and then to learn how to appropriate this knowledge into an action plan. There is a new book, The Probiotic Cure by Martie Whittekin that will help bring some clarity to the topic. Because this is a complex subject most consumers desire a way to simplify the process and this book can help.

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205 – Cannabidiol (CBD) for Stress and Sleep – My Interview with Dr. Aimee Shunney

In this interview with Dr. Aimee Shunney, we will discuss her experience with Plus CBD Oil in her clinical practice. I love talking to practitioners because they are the ones on the front line of patient care. Dr. Shunney is the type of doctor we all wish we had. Someone who combines the best of medical and nutritional care. So when someone like Dr. Shunney, who sees many people with common problems related to stress and sleep, states that Plus CBD Oil works better than anything she has previously used, I take notice.

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204 – What Are Metabolic Enzymes – My Interview with Tom Bohager

In this interview with Tom, we are going to discuss metabolic enzymes (also known as therapeutic enzymes). I am certain that many less consumers know about or understand this part of the enzyme story. This also surprises me because the research on metabolic enzymes goes back 50 years. I have known about and used some form of enzymes for nearly 40 years and we always have some in our natural medicine chest. I consider them to be a very important adjunct nutrient for pain and inflammation. Metabolic enzymes are those enzymes that are taken for purposes other than digestion. For that reason metabolic enzymes are taken between meals on an empty stomach.

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203 – Curcumin C3 Complex for Inflammation – My interview with Dr. Anurag Pande, PhD

When we want to understand the benefits of curcumin we can look to Sabinsa C3 Complex. This particular curcumin extract has 47 clinical studies going back to 1998. This is more than any other curcumin product. In this interview, I am speaking to Dr. Anurag Pande, PhD about these scientific studies using C3 Complex.

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202 – Is PQQ The Next Nutrient Superstar? – My Interview with Dr. Michael Murray

What are the clinical uses of PQQ? Given the nutritional importance and tremendous span of physiological effects of PQQ, there are considerable benefits in conditions that revolve around low mitochondrial function including in aging, many brain and neurological disease (e.g., Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease), and many other chronic degenerative disease. Current research has primarily focused on its ability to protect memory and cognition in both aging animals and humans.

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