Buying any kind of dietary supplement is such an iffy task. First, you never really know if a certain compound will work for you or not just based on what the label says, what other customers’ reviews say, or even what a few random studies say. Efficacy of dietary supplements is largely subjective and varies from one person to another depending on various individual factors.
The second big “if” has to do with whether the specific product you intend to buy is a genuine one or a total sham. The supplement industry is notorious for being laden with all sorts of overhyped and even totally fake products that are no more effective than sugar pills, yet come with a professional-looking design, tall list of claims and promises, premium price tag, and of course, plenty of testimonials from “satisfied customers”.
Anything goes in this unregulated industry and there is no official agency that oversees the production and labeling of dietary supplements. Each company has its own quality and safety standards and you just have to trust them! It’s ultimately your job to research about different companies and their manufacturing practices before you make an informed decision.
This article could make your quest a little easier by recommending five of the best and most trusted dietary supplement brands that you can buy online, and here they are:
As a practitioner-trusted brand, Throne makes some of the finest supplements you could find on the market. They source their ingredients from reputable suppliers and they only use high-quality ingredients in their formulations. They do thorough lab tests on the raw ingredients as well as the finished products to verify their potency, purity and safety.
Thorne’s supplements are pretty clean and free from harmful chemical additives and unnecessary fillers that are commonly used by other manufacturers. In terms of quality, this brand is top-notch and there are almost no complaints about them in this regard.
The one biggest complaint that some users have about them is the high price point. Although many of Thorne’s products are reasonably priced considering the quality of the ingredients they use, some of their formulas are quite pricey.
2. Pure Encapsulations
Pure Encapsulations is another highly trusted practitioner brand that offers premium allergen-free products. They make single-ingredient supplements as well as multi-ingredient formulas intended for specific uses.
PE’s products were originally intended for professional use only and they mainly distribute their products through healthcare practitioners rather than selling directly to consumers. Only a few authorized online retailers carry their products.
They use high-quality ingredients that are third-party tested for identity, potency, heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants. No unnecessary fillers or additives are used in PE’s supplements, which are also free from most allergens (unless listed on the label).
Just like Thorne, Pure Encapsulations is also quite expensive. They do have some decent deals on certain products, but it won’t be very economical to buy all of your supplement needs from either of these two premium manufacturers. The following options are a little more affordable.
3. Jarrow Formulas
If you are looking for a budget-friendly brand, then Jarrow has a nice selection of quality products at very competitive prices. They’ve been one of the most reputable companies in the industry for decades and their supplements are offered for sale at numerous online and local retail stores.
Jarrow has in-house labs where they analyze both raw ingredients and finished products to make sure they meet their quality and safety standards — and they seem to do a remarkable job at that. Some of the best supplements they make include: Bone-Up (bone support formula), ubiquinol (well-absorbed CoQ10), quercetin, SAM-e, and others.
4. NOW Foods
NOW is another affordable option and they have a massive selection of vitamins, herbal supplements, sports nutrition products, natural essential oils, and whole, organic foods (nuts, seeds, grains, etc.)
Don’t let their low prices make you question the authenticity of their products. They are legit and they use fine-quality, lab-tested ingredients. Being one of the largest manufacturers of nutritional supplements in the world does offer them a few competitive advantages. For example, they have long-established partnerships with different suppliers from whom they purchase raw ingredients in massive quantities and at bulk discounted prices, and this allows them to offer cheaper finished products without compromising quality.
5. Source Naturals
Source Naturals is also a trustworthy maker of many decent vitamin and herbal formulas that they sell at fair prices. They make sure the raw ingredients they use are pure and potent by running different analytical tests in their in-house lab — as you’d expect any reliable manufacturer to do.
Some of their most noteworthy formulas are: Wellness Formula (general immune support), Theanine Serene with Relora (calmness and focus support), Night Rest with Melatonin (sleep aid), Daily Essential Enzymes, and others.
Dietary Supplements FAQ
The following are some general, frequently asked questions about dietary supplements and vendors that you might find helpful.
Where to Buy Supplements Online?
You can easily find countless online stores that sell dietary supplements, including big-box retailers as well as smaller wellness-focused stores. In general, you’d better order your supplements from vendors that specialize in selling health products since these usually have a more knowledgeable support team that can offer better help and advice when you’re having doubts about certain products or issues.
One of the best places on the internet where you can buy nutritional supplements is PureFormulas. This Florida-based online shop has thousands of products from many of the most trustworthy brands in the industry, including the ones mentioned above and others. They are a reliable source of some hard-to-find practitioner brands that are only available for sale through select distributors — examples of these are: Pure Encapsulations and Designs for Health.
PureFormulas offers free standard shipping on most items and they also have optional express shipping options for an additional fee. Their website is well organized and easy to use, and they list the full supplement facts (ingredients) for each product on their website. They accept credit cards and PayPal payments.
Why Should You Avoid Buying Supplements on Amazon?
Amazon is arguably one of the worst places to shop for supplements online, and there are a couple of reasons for that. First, there is no vetting of the products and sellers that are allowed on the platform. Supplement scams and counterfeits of popular brands are quite common on Amazon, as are fake and paid reviews.
It’s safer to opt for vendors who have some expertise in the field of wellness and nutrition and who manually review and pick which brands and products they sell to their customers. It’s also a good cause to support smaller companies out there rather than spending all your money shopping at one megastore, like Amazon.
There are lots of good deals for different kinds of products on Amazon, but when it comes to food and health products, you’d better look elsewhere!
Are Dietary Supplements Really Worth It?
There are many proponents and opponents of supplements, and it goes beyond who is with or against Big Pharma. Both sides make some valid arguments and raise some legitimate questions in a never-ending debate.
For the most part, the usefulness and effectiveness of a specific supplement is largely subjective and varies from person to another. Take vitamins and minerals, for example; they may only be effective for a person who does not consume enough amounts of those nutrients in their regular daily diet. Any supplement that consists of vitamins and/or minerals could be completely useless for a person who consumes a well-balanced diet that supplies their body with the needed nutrients.
And then you have various botanical/herbal compounds that possess some potential medicinal properties, but often lack conclusive clinical evidence to support their efficacy in the human body. They may work for some people while doing nothing for others. With the lack of established mechanism of action for most herbal supplements out there, the only way to know if a certain ingredient or formula will work for you or not is to try it out yourself.
Generally speaking, it would be unwise and often wasteful to buy a product merely based on what the label says, what the company promises or what others claim. Instead, you should make your decisions based on your own specific needs, either as recommended by a doctor or another health professional, or based on your own experience and/or research. As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t really need it, save your money and don’t buy it just because of the hype!
Do Dietary Supplements Have Any Risks?
Most of the common dietary supplements on the market are generally considered safe and have little to no side effects when used properly. But this doesn’t mean they are entirely risk-free in all cases and for all users.
Some herbal compounds can result in significant side effects when consumed in high doses. Even the most harmless of supplements — like vitamins — can be potentially dangerous and can cause toxicity and several adverse effects when taken in excessive amounts or when mixed with other medications.
It’s always recommended to seek professional advice prior to taking any new supplement, especially if you suffer from serious health issues and/or you’re taking other medications that can potentially negatively interact with the supplement you intend to use.