Coming to a store near you- a premium halal gummy vitamin that tastes yummy.
Samia Muhammad, a pharmacist, moves across the pond from London to Virginia after getting married to a doctor from Chicago, Akif N. Syed, who has also studied regulation and policy at John Hopkins University. He has worked with consulting companies and governmental agencies. Committed to giving back to Muslim Student Associations and organizations like ICNA that shaped his Muslim identity, he is involved with local MSAs.
The couple put all their education and talent launched a company based in Centreville, Va. called Medsquare in 2014, and developed a lifestyle brand, New Age & Co. with a mission to make organic, natural lifestyle. They sell cotton neckties, T-shirts, handcrafted soaps, facial toners and beard oils.
Growing up, Muhammad had a hard time finding quality organic, vegan beauty products that she could use and afford. She wants to help her community access trusted organic and vegan product that of high standards, that didn’t cost hundreds of dollars. Gummy candy or vitamins were off limits for families who follow the sunnah of halal. “We always wanted to eat gummies, but never could as there was gelatin in them,” she lamented.
“We want to have the exact same quality without compromising our values,” says Syed.
Taking halal a step further they started a nutritional supplements line in 2016, and made sure that their vitamin products were plant based and vegan- friendly, so there would be no shadow of doubt about it’s halal certified status. Pectin makes sure that that Medsquare’s vitamins are gelatin-free. Medsquare is also working with Scan Halal, a halal consumer app, to get halal certified.
The omega used is derived from chia seed oil to stay away from the fishy taste that deters customers from taking in the essential fatty acid. The American Heart Association recommends people with coronary heart disease consume 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA daily while those with high triglycerides may need 2,000 to 3,000 mg per day.
Because they are sugar-free, Medsquare are a great choice for diabetics and young children, says Muhammad. The couple makes sure that they give 10 percent of their income to charitable organizations such as ICNA Relief and Vitamin Angels.
With thirty-one billion dollars in revenue the Vitamin and Supplement Manufacturing industry has grown rapidly over the past five years, benefiting from increased demand from a larger mainstream, health-conscious consumer base and an increasingly aging population.
Like any other industry there is the good, the bad and the ugly.
Dr Sadia Husain, an internal medicine specialist in Silver Springs, Md, says that as long as we have a balanced diet that includes vegetables, proteins and healthy fat we do not need extra vitamin supplements. However most of us are deficient in Vitamin D due to lack of ample sun exposure. It is important to replace it.
She does recommend vitamins for eye health, especially amongst those who are aging, to slow down degeneration.
As a Muslim doctor, she is concerned that the vitamins in the market have adequate daily-recommended value and they should be gelatin free. Medsquare meets both requirements.
A 1994 law, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which prevents the products from the scrutiny and approval given to other drugs, makes sure that the federal government doesn't have much power over the supplements industry. Medsquare does make sure that their products come up to any standards set by the FDA. The manufacturing plant that the Medsquare outsources their vitamins to is a CGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practice) certified facility and National Science Foundation. After much research, they chose a U.S. factory that they can visit easily and would be required to follow state and federal laws.
This was extremely important to them as Muslim entrepreneurs they wanted to make sure the quality of the product was high enough for their own personal consumption.
The Muslim Link asked Dr Husain that despite the fact that not one public health organization (national or international) recommends high doses of vitamins why are they so popular?
“Most vitamins are over the counter and it gives patients a sense of control over their health. Media has played role big time. We have to be careful and check with the doctor about what we are consuming from the market as excessive intake of vitamins is also not safe and they have their toxicities,” she advised TML readers. She often recommends Noor and Amanah vitamins to her patients and is glad that more halal options, like Medsquare, are coming into the market.
Syed hopes to work closely with stores such as Whole Foods as well as health food chains, gyms and fitness stores as well as Muslim owned businesses to stock their brand. Talks with Amazon are also in the works. Customers in the U.S. can order monthly supplies with free shipping from www.medsquare.net