Smart Vitamin Buying

Extending Lives

By Ross Macdonald

There are more than 1,600 vitamin/supplement brands in the US, made by fewer than 20 companies. Prices are set by the type of marketing, i.e. on-line, retail stores, doctors’ web pages, MLMs (multi-level marketing), and giant retailers’ private labels, specifically, a large vitamin manufacturer that makes 18 different brands (all well recognized), each having its own marketing. The products sold on-line and the ones sold in the retail store have different brand names but the same inventory number, same strength, and same number of pills. However, the store brand is twice the price of the on-line brand.

Consumer Labs in New York is the company that tests vitamins/supplements for quality, content, purity, ads, and price comparisons. The following is a quote from Consumer Labs after completing a massive survey of prices vs. quality. “You certainly don’t need to pay the highest prices to get good quality supplements. In fact, Consumer Labs has found that some of the most economical products costing pennies per day are of better quality than premium-priced supplements costing more than a dollar a day.”

Examples: cents per pill. Same strength and number of pills

Co Q 10 9 vs. 78, Lutein 9 vs. 119, Magnesium 2 vs. 83, Vit C 3 vs. 78, Vit D3 4 vs. 37, Fish Oil 5 vs. 105.

Consumer Labs’ survey with answers from 10,000 members covered more than 1,600 brands for popularity and showed Life Extension to be the most popular overall. Others: Calcium and CO Q 10: Puritan Pride; Fish Oil and Multi Vit: Life Extension.

Most popular on-line retailer: Swanson.

Vitamins are usually made from rock or coal tar and others are grown in nutritionally saturated water using plants like mustard seeds. Calcium and magnesium, etc. are elements and cannot be changed chemically. Yes, you can add to their structure (like magnesium oxide or citrate) or add additives, but it has not changed the element itself. So vit C is Vit C without additives.

In my opinion on-line doctors and MLM companies are the last place to buy supplements. They are rarely tested by Consumer Labs and probably do not have their own manufacturing facilities. These supplements are sold based on the doctors’ online reputation at very high prices. Some are made in China.

Ross Macdonald, BS, MS, CPT has written over 100 articles for the Atención on exercise, health, and vitamins/supplements since 1997. He can be reached at for further information which he will be glad to discuss with you.


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