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Reference Materials for Dietary Supplement Analysis

Table of Contents

Reference Materials Program Description
A description of the ODS-supported program to develop reference materials and calibration standards.
Available: Reference Materials and Calibration Standards
A list of available reference materials and calibration standards developed with ODS support.
In Progress: Reference Materials and Calibration Standards
A list of dietary supplement ingredients for which reference materials and calibration standards are currently under development.
Selected Related References
A list of publications related to the ODS-supported dietary supplement program at NIST, including method development and characterization of dietary supplement NIST Standard Reference Materials® (SRM).
Search NIST Standard Reference Materials® home page for Dietary Supplement Materials
Link to the NIST SRM Web site to search for additional dietary supplement SRMs developed without ODS support: link icon

Reference Materials Program Description

The Reference Materials Program is one component of ODS's Dietary Supplements Analytical Methods and Reference Materials Program. ODS collaborates with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other Federal government agencies to produce reference materials and calibration standards relevant to dietary supplements.

Goals: Well-characterized reference materials provide academia, government, and industry with tools that will lead to the improved quality of supplements. Improved quality ultimately reduces public health risks that could be associated with these products. Reference materials will also advance research and development, and facilitate commerce.

Standard Reference Materials: NIST Standard Reference Materials® (SRMs) are produced in suites (e.g., source plant, extract, and finished product) that represent different analytical challenges. The constituents in these reference materials are determined by multiple independent methods with measurements performed by NIST and collaborating laboratories. The methods utilized different sample extraction and cleanup steps, as well as different instrumental analytical techniques and approaches to quantification.

SRMs are intended for use:

  • in method development,
  • as control materials to support the measurement of constituents in other similar products,
  • to ensure that laboratory analyses of ingredients and finished products are accurate,
  • to help manufacturers and researchers of dietary supplements characterize raw materials to prevent the use of contaminated ingredients,
  • to assist manufacturers in self-assessment of consistency and quality in finished products, and
  • to provide a foundation to which label information can be linked.

Calibration Standards: The term calibration standard is used when an absolute value is measured. Calibration standards, which are single chemical entities, are developed to ensure high purity and uniformity for specific analytes (e.g., isoflavones, anthocyanins, flavanols). Natural products, or dietary supplements derived from natural raw materials, are chemically complex. Therefore, these reference materials may not be appropriate for calibrating measurement systems.

These calibration standards are used:

  • for construction of calibration curves for quantitative analysis,
  • for confirming analyte identity, and
  • in calibrating measuring systems.

Availability of SRMs and Calibration Standards: The ODS Web site provides information on those materials currently available to the public through NIST. At this time, only those materials developed under the sponsorship of ODS are listed. Separate lists show that materials are now available and those that are being developed.

NIST SRM Web Catalog: The NIST SRM home pageexternal link icon provides a search engine for its SRM Web catalog. You may search on broad terms (e.g., "dietary supplement"), the ingredient of interest (e.g., "bitter orange"), or specific analytes (e.g., "carotenoid"). A search of "carotenoid," for example, may find carrot extract in oil and other foods, and carotenoids in human serum. The search feature will help you identify additional materials not mentioned on the ODS Web site.

Available: SRMs and Calibration Standards


The NIST dietary supplement SRM Web siteexternal link icon includes tables of SRMs to facilitate comparisons among a family of materials. These tables may help customers select the best SRM for their needs.

Calibration Standards

(Calibration standards will appear here when available.)

In Progress: SRMs and Calibration Standards


  • Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng, Araliaceae)
  • Black cohosh (Acteae racemosa)
  • Calcium in supplements
  • Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus, Araliaceae)
  • Iodine and iodate in table salt
  • Kudzu (Pueraria lobata)
  • Pomegranate (Punica granatum, Punicacea)
  • Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
  • Soy (Glycine max)
  • St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa, Zingiberacea)
  • Vitamins B6, B12 in serum
  • Yohimbe (Pausinystalia johimbe, Rubiaceae)

Calibration Standards

  • Catechins
  • Flavonols
  • Ginsenosides
  • Isoflavones
  • Organic acids
  • Terpene glycosides

Selected Related References

Section Contents

Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium)

Nelson BC, Putzbach K, Sharpless KE, Sander LC. Mass spectrometric determination of the predominant adrenergic protoalkaloids in bitter orange (Citrus aurantium). J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Nov 28;55(24):9769-75.

Putzbach K, Rimmer CA, Sharpless KE, et al. Determination of bitter orange alkaloids in dietary supplement standard reference materials by liquid chromatography with atmospheric-pressure ionization mass spectrometry. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Sep;389(1):197-205.

Putzbach K, Rimmer CA, Sharpless KE, Sander LC. Determination of bitter orange alkaloids in dietary supplements standard reference materials by liquid chromatography with ultraviolet absorbance and fluorescence detection. J Chromatogr A. 2007 Jul 13;1156(1-2):304-11.

Sander LC, Putzbach K, Nelson BC, et al. Certification of standard reference materials containing bitter orange. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2008 Jul;391(6):2023-34.

Carrot Extract Oil

Sharpless KE, Thomas JB, Duewer DL, et al. Preparation and characterization of Standard Reference Material 3276, carrot extract in oil. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Sep;389(1):207-17.

Ephedra (Ephedra sinica)

Sander LC, Sharpless KE, Satterfield MB, et al. Determination of ephedrine alkaloids in dietary supplement standard reference materials. Anal Chem. 2005 May 15;77(10):3101-12.

Sander LC, Sharpless KE, Wise SA. Dietary supplement standard reference materials. Life Sci. 2006 Mar 27;78(18):2044-8.

Sharpless KE, Anderson DL, Betz JM, et al. Preparation and characterization of a suite of ephedra-containing standard reference materials. J AOAC Int. 2006 Nov-Dec;89(6):1483-95.

Thomas JB, Sharpless KE, Mitvalsky S, et al. Determination of caffeine and caffeine-related metabolites in ephedra-containing standard reference materials using liquid chromatography with absorbance detection and tandem mass spectrometry. J AOAC Int. 2007 Jul-Aug;90(4):934-40.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Rimmer CA, Howerton SB, Sharpless KE, et al. Characterization of a suite of ginkgo-containing standard reference materials. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Sep;389(1):179-96.

Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)

Dalluge JJ, Nelson BC, Thomas JB, Sander LC. Selection of column and gradient elution system for the separation of catechins in green tea using high-performance liquid chromatography. J Chromatogr A. 1998 Jan 16;793(2):265-74.

Dalluge JJ, Nelson BC, Thomas JB, et al. Capillary liquid chromatography/electrospray mass spectrometry for the separation and detection of catechins in green tea and human plasma. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 1997;11(16):1753-6.


Nelson BC, Sharpless KE, Sander LC. Improved liquid chromatography methods for the separation and quantification of biotin in NIST Standard Reference Material 3280: multivitamin/multielement tablets. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Nov 15;54(23):8710-6.

Nelson BC, Sharpless KE, Sander LC. Quantitative determination of folic acid in multivitamin/multielement tablets using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A. 2006 Dec 1;1135(2):203-11.

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)

Bedner M, Schantz MM, Sander LC, Sharpless KE. Development of liquid chromatographic methods for the determination of phytosterols in standard reference materials containing saw palmetto. J Chromatogr A. 2008 May 23;1192(1):74-80.

Schantz MM, Bedner M, Long SE, et al. Development of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) fruit and extract standard reference materials. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2008 Oct; 392(3):427-438.


Sharpless KE, Duewer DL. Standard reference materials for analysis of dietary supplements. J AOAC Int. 2008 Nov-Dec;91(6):1298-1302.

Sharpless KE, Thomas JB, Christopher SJ, et al. Standard reference materials for foods and dietary supplements. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Sep;389(1):171-8.

Sharpless KE, Sander LC, Wise SA, et al. Development of standard reference materials for the analysis of dietary supplements: the story continues. HerbalGram 2011 May-July;90:44-51.