by Kari Collett, RDN, LDN, CLT
A to Zinc Nutrition, LLC
Supplement sales have gone nuts! If you’ve been looking for immune boosting supplements like everyone else, you’ll find many of them on backorder. So what can you do? Most people turn to Amazon, eBay, or other sales sites where there is usually an abundance of inventory and at much cheaper prices.
Ouch. There are several concerns with buying supplements on these types of sites according to Gary Collins, MS. Some bargain supplements are worthless at best and may even be harmful. Supplements high in quality and efficacy cost money. The three main ways that supplements can be marketed at such cheap prices include:
- Counterfeit products.
- Expired products that have been repackaged as new.
- Stolen products released on the black market.
The idea that the things we want to take to support our health are potentially counterfeit is disturbing but unfortunately that is the case with many of the most popular supplements. The more popular a supplement, the more potential for it to have a counterfeit look-alike. The manufacturers cover their bases with these products and create a legitimate paper trail should anyone take the time to dive in. With limited regulation, many knock-off supplements have too much or too little of the active ingredient, some have contaminants, and some have no active ingredient at all! The take-away: if it’s super cheap, it’s probably fake.
Repackaging expired products is fairly common. Legitimate companies promote heavily discounted prices on products that are about to expire. Doing so prevents them from having to throw them away. That makes sense. But the buyers are often counterfeiter manufacturers. They might simply remove the label and slap on a new one or mix it in with their fake look-alike product. When the manufacturers have a legitimate product on-hand, they are protected should anyone ever pursue a quality investigation.
There are a variety of ways supplement products can get stolen. Sometimes warehouses are broken into and sometimes employees of manufacturers take product to sell to other manufacturers. This is wrong on all levels but most importantly, the companies that do their due diligence in manufacturing supplements that are pure and effective are losing a lot of money. As a consumer of supplements, I want them to keep doing the hard work of producing supplements that optimize my health and the health of my patients.
Gary Collins highlights the following advice when considering supplement purchases:
- Buy professional grade supplements when possible.
- Buy from a reputable company.
- Find out the standards used to test the quality of ingredients of the final products.
- If it’s cheap, avoid it.
Gary Collins is a former Special Agent for the US State Department, US Department of Health and Human Services, and US Food and Drug Administration.
For more information and assistance with selecting dietary supplements, contact A to Zinc Nutrition for a free consult.