10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Vitamins Online
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Vitamins offer a plethora of benefits to users. From establishing a healthy immune system to building muscles to improving the health of your digestive, skin, and joints, the advantages go on and on. From multivitamins to essential supplements like B-12, people are taking more vitamins to improve their health than ever before. But, it’s essential to know that not all vitamins are created equally. Some are stuffed with extra additives that aren’t good for your body, and some may not be powerful enough to make any difference to your health at all. If you’re used to buying vitamins online, you may have bought into one or more myths and mistakes before.
But to make purchasing vitamins worthwhile, it’s key to understand which mistakes to avoid.
That’s where we come in to help. Here are ten common mistakes to avoid when buying vitamins online.
1. Buying Cheap
While it’s tempting to reach for bargain supplements, remember that you get what you pay for. The draw of super-cheap items may be enticing, but if vitamins are at a low price, there’s likely to be issues with them.
Far too many people go for a ‘financial decision’ rather than a ‘health decision’ when buying new supplements. While a small bottle of vitamins costing $50 may seem overpriced, there’s nothing worse than purchasing untested and unsafe alternatives. Cheaper vitamins often won’t deliver the nutrients your body needs compared to higher-priced options.
When choosing vitamins, always make sure you’re selecting high-quality supplements from trusted suppliers. If you’re not sure, the right idea is to reach out to the supplier and ask for extra proof of quality regarding the vitamins and the manufacturing process.
Any companies that avoid this conversation or refuse to send you any further information shouldn’t be trusted with your health. Brands that are trustworthy and knowledgeable in their fields are often more than happy to share this information with you and have access to all the information you require.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve vitamins, the good news is that supplements are regulated in some ways.
The term ‘FDA-approved’ isn’t a legally valid specification for supplements and vitamins. However, the FDA does regulate dietary supplements and ingredients. In 2007, the FDA began a set of regulations called the ‘Current Good Manufacturing Practice’ (CGMO). The CGMO requires that supplement manufacturers assess their products by testing purity, strength, identity, and composition.
While the FDA consistently audits manufacturing facilities for FDA compliance and CGMP practices, remember that the industry is still teaming with poorly and even incorrectly produced supplements. When you choose vitamins, always check the company’s manufacturing practices.
2. Choosing Products with Poor Sourcing
Where do your vitamins ingredients come from? How does the company source these ingredients?
If you’re browsing online vitamin stores and come across a product page and have difficulties finding sourcing and quality information, this could be a bad sign. After all, transparency is critical when shopping with brands.
Ideally, look for products that are organic or ethically harvested. Some companies own organic farms where many ingredients found in supplements are grown. For example, supplement ingredients like adaptogenic mushrooms like turkey tail, shiitake, maitake, lion’s mane, and more can grow and ferment in greenhouses.
3. Buying Vitamins With Added Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners and even significant amounts of sugar may be lurking in your favorite vitamins, which isn’t good for your health. Even more natural sweeteners can cause problems for some people.
Sugar alcohols erythritol, xylitol, maltitol, and sorbitol can lead to digestive problems for some people. In small amounts under a gram, these natural sweeteners are often fine for many. But if you’re prone to digestive upset and issues, it’s a good idea to steer clear of them.
Gummies and syrups, such as elderberry vitamins, are often packed with hidden sugar bombs or unhealthy artificial sweeteners. When you’re taking vitamins to improve your health, this is exactly what you don’t want in immune-focused and multivitamin supplements.
Typically, one serving of two small gummies contains around four grams of sugar. Shockingly, this is eight percent of all sugars you should consume in one day. If you’re looking for a fruit-flavored supplement, such as an elderberry vitamin, there are some brands out there that pack in the antioxidant power without the extra sugar.
4. Purchasing from Misleading Websites
Many websites that sell expensive and ineffective supplements often contain no contact information and only have space for you to write in your personal information.
Often, these websites scam you by claiming to gift you a free one-month supply of their products. However, if you don’t cancel your order on time, they may charge you for a year’s worth of vitamins.
These websites are often complete scams and feature images of an athletic and healthy man and women with zero links to the company. On the other hand, trusted vitamin brands may show sponsored athletes and reps.
Companies looking to scam you out of your money generally don’t give free products to reps as they’re ineffective, and they’re likely to get caught out. If you do some research, a good press release tends to cover this type of fraud well.
Likewise, keep an eye out for manufacturers that make bold and outrageous claims. Vitamin producers aren’t allowed to claim that their supplements can reverse, prevent, or diagnose any condition or disease. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t.
If the claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If the company claims the supplements are designed for a disease instead of general health, that’s a huge red flag. The vitamins are unlikely to help and may harm you instead.
When reading labels online, it’s essential to pay attention to the active and non-active elements in a vitamin. Ignoring the non-active ingredients may lead to sensitivity or allergic reactions for some people.
Non-medicinal ingredients that are common in some vitamins that you should be aware of include:
- Potential Allergens including dairy, gluten, and soy
- Gelatin, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan
- Hydrogenated oils
- Magnesium stearate
- Artificial coloring
- Titanium dioxide
5. Not Reading Online Reviews
Online customer reviews have made it easier to weed out scam products. If you’re not sure about a product or manufacturer, search the name of the product or company online and then follow it with ‘reviews.’ Various review websites should show up from customers.
One good website to check is called Supplement Reviews. They post customer reviews of vitamins, and no company or anyone related to a supplement company can post a review, which avoids bias.
Another useful website is Protein Daily. The website provides all you need to know about protein, including which companies sell scam protein supplements and sell the real deal. By checking online reviews, you can take advantage of what real customers have said about supplements they’ve used.
However, it’s still essential to remain cautious. Some apparent consumer websites are also fake. If they only promote one item, they may be linked with a fake supplement company.
6. Relying on Advice from Magazines, Health Gurus, or Celebrities
We’ve seen it all too often. We’re watching a TV show or flipping through a magazine, and a new vitamin you’ve never heard of is the next big super-supplement to add to your bathroom shelf.
But remember, for every health enthusiast promoting new and healthy products to try, there are more health gurus simply promoting items for commercial purposes.
Brands often give their products to health ‘experts’ in lucrative partnerships due to the perceived level of trust between consumers and the expert. While it’s easy to get swept away by the words from a health guru you love or a celebrity, it’s crucial to question any affiliations to companies and products with health ‘experts.’
Sure, Gwyneth Paltrow swears by her Goop vitamin collection. But a celebrity brand alone isn’t enough to prove that the supplement is safe or effective. Ensure that the vitamin has the seal of approval from a genuine organization that shows that independent testing has been made before you get too excited.
Likewise, many people often rely on advice and guidance from online health store workers. However, it’s essential to know that these workers often receive training around selling specific products, so their advice is often heavily biased. This training is often provided by the suppliers of the vitamins, rather than health experts.
The needs of the individual customer always fall short in these cases, so any advice you receive should be taken with a grain of salt. Remember that most online health stores don’t require a specific set of skills or knowledge for employees. So, don’t expect quality medical advice and factual information when comparing health store workers with dietitians, doctors, and nutritionists.
7. Purchasing Straight From the Brand
When you visit a vitamin brand’s homepage, you’ll often see a price list. However, these are often retail market prices, and not what they typically sell their products for.
If you head to the brand’s Amazon page, you’ll usually spot the same product for a lower price. You can also browse trusted retailers such as Lockout Supplements. They’re likely to sell your favorite supplements for a fraction of the costs you pay on other websites.
After all, the point of buying supplements online is to save money and receive quality products, not spending more money.
8. Selecting Fake Supplements
We’ve touched upon it in this article but beware of choosing fake supplements when buying online. When searching on companies like Amazon and eBay, be aware that authentic brands include the username after their company.
Be aware of users who have no website information or contact details, as their products may be fake or ineffective. Each year thousands purchase fake supplements that look just like the real deal. The difference is what each capsule contains.
When reading labels on products online, remember that some companies produce labels with the intention to deceive or confuse the consumer. That’s because many products are packed with fillers, bulking agents, and preservatives that deliver no medical benefits and are simply part of the creation process.
Some manufacturers attempt to create the product with fewer ingredients, while others are entirely ineffective. As mentioned, always check consumer reviews, and read the labels of products before making a purchase. A company selling fake supplements will almost always have negative reviews.
9. Ordering Supplements with Binders and Excipients
Be sure to avoid supplements containing binders and excipients. Magnesium stearate and stearic acid are additives in vitamins you should stay away from. These additives are commonly used in the industry as a lubricate to produce tablets.
While they’re said to be safe in small doses, there are reports of magnesium stearate and stearic acid linking to poor intestinal absorption.
10. Not Researching Vitamins Properly
Supplements are designed for all different needs and physiology, so make sure you purchase the right products. Everyone has individual needs, so it’s essential you know exactly what you need to improve your health.
After all, not all vitamins will have the same effect on the user.
Buying Vitamins Online Safely
When buying vitamins online, always be skeptical. Always be aware that some companies are trying to scam you with fake products or unrealistic claims.
Always check consumer websites and reviews and do thorough research on any supplements you’re planning to buy.
Want more advice on purchasing vitamins online? Check out our latest blog posts.