A Look at Canadian Natural Health Products

Canadian natural health products (NHP’s) are intended to restore or maintain good health.  An impressively large number of Canadians use natural health products.  In 2010 a survey was conducted, which demonstrated that 73% of Canadians use NHPs on a regular basis[i].  This may come as a surprise until one gets a glimpse of the various forms of NHPs.  Taking vitamin D tablets daily?  Are you a lover of energy drinks?  Consider yourself one of the 73% of Canadians!  Mineral supplement tablets, meal replacement beverages, energy rinks, vitamin-enriched juices and beverages, anti-aging topical creams, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicines, and traditional medicines are all examples of what could be considered a natural health product.  Licensed NHP’s are products have been deemed safe for consumption without a prescription by Health Canadai

In order to recognize a product as an NHP, Health Canada issues natural health product numbers (NPN’s) or DIN-HM (drug identification number – homeopathic medicine).   This number must be present on the label and demonstrates that the product has been reviewed for safety, effectiveness, and quality[ii].  Further information that must be provided on the product is safety information such as recommended use, list of ingredients, and cautionary statementsii.  These are all measures to insure the safe use of NHP’s. 

The general rule is that an NHP must have an NPN prior to it being marketed, which should be printed on the label.  However, certain products can receive an exemption number (EN), allowing for the marketing of the product while the full licensing process is being completed.  Products that are applicable for EN are those which Health Canada has completed an initial assessment of the safety, quality and efficacy of the product and which have met specific safety criteria[iii]

Still unsure if a particular product is an NHP?  Health Canada provides useful search databases that allow for the search of NHP’s that have been authorized for sale as well as for products that have an exemption number.  All the tools are available to explore Canadian NHP’s and how to safely utilize them.

The Canadian food industry thus has an exciting opportunity.  Innovative food products can be created to be not only organoleptically appealing but also formulated in such a way to meet NHP guidelines.   This certainly falls in line with food trends, which are going more towards healthy options.   Now the means exist to supply something that’s healthy, safe, effective, and of high quality, and which consumers can trust due to Canada’s NHP stamp of approval.


Important Links

Licensed NHP database


Exempted NHP database


For more general information regarding Natural Health Products, please visit Health Canada’s website


Important safety information regarding NHPs