In 2016, the global dietary supplement market was valued at over $133 billion. This is a huge industry with little regulation. As a result, what you think you’re getting when you buy a supplement might not be what you actually get.
Is it safe to buy supplements from large online retailers?
Last year, Amazon (just as an example) made headlines due to an increase in fraudlent merchandise, fake merchants, and fake reviews. As Amazon grows, it struggles to keep this under control. To make matters worse for Amazon, a 2017 Forbes article stated that 25 percent of Amazon’s products are Chinese knockoffs. This is true not only of those new “TRX” straps you bought, but also of the supplements you might buy!
Additionally, if you don’t purchase your supplements directly from the manufacturer or a trusted healthcare professional, you run the risk of a suboptimal product. Probiotics, for example, lose potency if not in a climate controlled environment. It is unlikely mass retailers provide those environments to ensure the potency of the probiotics they sell.
Are Supplements from retail stores safe?
Retail stores such as GNC, Walgreens, and Target unfortunately also carry fake supplements. In 2015, these stores were accused of selling fake supplements. Some of the things found were:
- GNC: supplements contained ingredients not listed on their labels, including some with dangerous allergens such as peanuts and soybeans.
- Walgreens: A ginseng supplement turned out to contain only rice and garlic.
- Target: Six supplements tested negative for the main ingredient they claimed.
If you do decide to shop at a retail store, I recommend small, independent apothecaries that have an excellent reputation along with knowledgeable staff.
So where should I buy supplements?
Buy your supplements from trusted, professional producers or suppliers. Purchase straight from the producer whenever you can. Avoid Amazon.
Here are some brands I trust. I recommend buying directly from them:
- Thorne Research
- Designs for Health
- Nordic Naturals
- Pure Encapsulations
- Klaire Labs
- Integrative Therapeutics
- Emerson Ecologics
- Heal Well Nutrition Online Supplement Store – all supplements I carry are direct from the manufacturer
Below are a couple of certifications you will see on reputable brands. These may be seen on counterfeit brands but they are still important when searching out a quality supplement.
- Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Certified Manufacturing Facility – Ensures that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards
- National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International Certified for Sport – A certification in place to protect professional athletes from accidental positive drug tests
- International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) – A third party testing and certification program exclusively for fish oils
How can I protect myself from fake supplements?
It’s just as easy to purchase your supplements from a reputable supplier as it is to buy on Amazon. If you’re spending your money on high-quality health products, you will spend less money in the long run and get healthier a heck of a lot quicker. Be sure to purchase your supplements and anything else you consume (toiletries, cosmetics, food) from a professional, reputable supplier you trust.