We dive into the best places to buy supplements and we go over some of the things you should watch for when buying from big and small supplement retailers.
The chances are good that big on-line retailers are very trustworthy when it comes to safety of transactions, return policy, customer service and even for protecting your personal information, but how about the quality and safety of the supplements that they sell?
It’s not always a matter of just buying supplements at the retailer you trust because buying from a trusted retailer does not ensure you are getting the best supplements.
The fact is, some of the biggest and most trusted on-line stores have the most amount of inferior products.
First, let me just state that when I say “inferior supplement”, to me “inferior” means anything less than the best.
Inferior doesn’t mean a product is necessarily bad, it just means that if I see that Product A has 50,000mg of active ingredient and Product B only has 30,000mg of active ingredient I consider Product B to be inferior to Product A. If I see 40 other products with less active ingredients than Product A I would consider them inferior too. Of course there are exceptions to the rule such as amount of capsules per bottle or price.
I also consider that if Product A is manufactured in a GMP facility and is 3rd-Party Tested and Product B isn’t, this means Product B may also be an inferior product simply because I have no proof of Product B’s quality or label accuracy, and trust me that is important.
Big On-Line Supplement Retailers
Some big supplement retailers brag about selling 5000+ products and some even claim they have up to 30,000 products. To the average consumer they perceive them to be a big reputable and trusted companies, and are probably going to be the safest and best place to buy supplements, but are they?
To me, having 30,000 products only means they are more likely to have thousands of inferior and maybe even useless products on their websites.
No Science Supplements
When you are a giant retailer and you sell thousands of supplements, it’s not uncommon to find hundreds if not thousands of products that really don’t have any substantial scientific proof that they actually work.
Sure there may have been a study somewhere showing that a certain ingredient worked, but not every supplement or every brand uses the right amounts of ingredients that are proven by science to work.
In fact it’s not uncommon for us to read the studies and determine the amounts they used to get good results, yet most of the supplements we find are far below the study doses.
Simply put, the more supplements a retailer sells the more likely they will be selling supplements that have little to know scientific evidence that they work.
Product Selection - Good or Bad?
While I agree that having a great selection is good when it comes to supplements that might have different flavors and textures like protein powders, energy drinks or bars.
But when it comes to products that come in a pill or tablet that serve one purpose such as helping with a health issue, I believe all you really need is the one best formula that works. A formula that has the right amounts, or the highest amounts of active ingredients at the right price.
Selection is not your friend when it comes to buying supplements that are not flavored, so why do some store sell 200 version of the same products?
I was the the lead buyer for a chain of supplement and health and fitness stores and it was my job to find and buy the best supplements for all our stores.
At the time, we were the best place to buy the best supplements but the problem I often ran into was once I found the 1 true best supplement, why did I want to buy any other versions of that product when I knew that no of them were as good? Why would any store want a product that is not the best on their shelves or on their website?
The simple truth is so they are able to offer a great selection of products and be perceived to be a big reputable retailer and the best place to buy supplements which is why I was often instructed to buy 3 to 6 versions of the same supplement even though I knew I would only ever personally use the 1 best one.
As the head buyer I was able to educate the sales staff and ask them to only promote and recommend the best products, but you can’t do that if you run an on-line retail store. People buy what people want to buy.
The sad truth is consumers get convinced and sold on not-so-good supplements all the time.
They talk to their neighbor who takes Product B or even Product C and liked it so now they want to try it. Or they see an ad on TV or on Facebook so they want to go buy it and try it, and the big retailers want to have that product in their selection when the consumer comes looking for it, even if it is a crappy product, otherwise that consumer will go buy it somewhere else and they will loose a sale.
Unfortunately most consumers don’t have a clue if the supplement their neighbor or friend recommended is actually the best product or not, and often, they don’t care, they just want what they used.
That’s why some retailers will sell hundreds of versions of the same product.
I went to one large online supplement retailer(not Amazon) and found 390 options when I searched for the popular supplement Turmeric.
There were different sizes from many different brands, different amounts of active ingredients, some where blends, some weren’t, and when I reviewed all 390 I only found a few that had the most active ingredients, were priced competitively for the amount they had, and were also made in a GMP facility and was also 3rd-Party tested.
There was only 1 product out of 390 that I would take personally or feel confident enough to give to my friends and family, ONLY 1. The rest were inferior and in my opinion and not worth buying!
Even though this company has so many inferior supplements they are recognized as one of the best places to buy supplements on-line and they probably are a good company to buy from as long as you you know how to select the really good supplement from all of those inferior supplements.
Cheaper Supplements For Bigger Profits
Not only do retailers want a great selection so they don’t miss out on sales, they also want supplements that they can get cheap and make more profits on, and sometimes that means they buy cheap quality products from un-reputable sources, that may not be manufactured in regulated GMP facilities or 3rd party tested.
Discount retailers may or may not be as trustworthy as you think.
Most Trusted Retailers
So is the best place to buy products at huge trusted retailers like walmart, GNC, or Target?
Maybe, but these stores often sell supplements cheap and that means the need to buy cheaper products.
Increased profits at these stores may be the reason why big retailers like Walmart, GNC, Target, Walgreens were accused of selling selling fake and potentially harmful herbal supplements.
They were selling products that had little to none of the ingredients listed on the label.
This could be a health hazard for some people not to mention not to mention that their customers were getting ripped off and not getting what they paid for.
Had these retailers just purchased products from more reputable sources or had they required 3rd-Party testing on all products there may not have been any issues.
Consumers trust these big retailers to do the work for them and expect the supplements they buy are good.
You can view the story of those retailers HERE and HERE and HERE
Supplements From Amazon
Amazon is likely the biggest supplement retailer in the world but is it the best place to buy supplements? Many articles I have read say NO, but I have purchased products there and I recommend and link to products for purchase on Amazon.
Like the other big retailers Amazon has also been accused of selling fake, and possibly dangerous supplements through it’s 3rd-party sellers and this is a big concern and an on-going issue. See the story about Amazon HERE . . . . and HERE . . . .
You have to be smarter when buying supplements from Amazon and if you are with their selection, Amazon is likely the best place to buy supplements.
When I recommend supplements from Amazon I always look to see who the seller is, and if it’s from a third-party seller and not from the verified manufacturers I will not recommend buying it from Amazon. If you are careful buying from Amazon can be one of the best places to buy supplements.
Small On-line Supplement Retailers
Smaller on-line supplement retailers may have less selection but they can still have all the same issues as the big retailers and they can also sell inferior supplements.
Some are small business just trying to get a start and they have genuine products that they buy direct from the manufactures. As long as they are selling reputable brands I would consider buying products from them but I would suggest you the products before you buy them.
Beware Of Small Unfamiliar Websites
I have seen a trend of heavily marketed unknown supplements pop-up on-line and on social media. They usually have great looking labels and great looking websites and look 100% legit.
Often times they are small manufactures of supplements that have their own website stores where they promote and sell their own products.
I have researched many of these websites and their products and almost all of them sell very cheap quality supplements and they provide discounts if you buy multiple bottles at a time. Their marketing is often shady and almost to good to be true, and most of the time it is.
Often they will only have 5 to 10 products that are considered hot selling supplements at the time. It is likely they are not 3rd-party tested or even made in a cGMP facility, and some may not be made in the USA at all.
A dead give-away that there is something wrong is when they have a ton of reviews and they are all 5-star reviews and not one complaint.
Also, I have found that trying to find the physical location of these companies is often difficult and many will list a P.O box somewhere in the USA so they can’t be found.
It’s hard to determine the legitimacy of these websites and they could be great people just trying to get a start in business but for the most part, unless I know better I would never buy from them or recommend ever buying from them.
Be very careful buying from them and do your homework before you buy from any small unknown supplement line.
Brick And Morter Supplement Stores
Back many years ago I also worked for a few years as The Sale Director for a supplement company and we sold supplements direct to retail stores.
Often the store owners were very knowledgeable and would only sell products they believed would actually be the best for their customers. They were like the gate keepers that kept out the fake and bogus supplements and at the time these places were the best place to buy supplements and they still might be.
However, just like the bigger retailers these smaller stores still needed to have at least a few different brands so they had a good selection for their customers and that meant that unless all brands they sold used the exact same formula that some of those brands were inferior.
These retailers also only bought their products from authorized distributors/wholesalers so the risk of fake products was very low.
How To Find and Buy The Best Supplements?
The real answer to that question is “do your homework”. With any product that you might be interested in buying, I highly recommend that you research and compare supplements and determine if they are GMP manufactured and if they are 3rd-Party tested for purity and label accuracy and that they have the most active ingredients for the price.
I would also recommend only buying products made in the USA or Canada.
You’re other option is to look it up on our website first before you buy, because if it’s on our website we have already done all the work for you.
Once you have found the best supplement use our links or use our list below of the best places to buy supplements
Best On-line Supplement Retailers
With any of these retailers it only makes sense to look up the product and know which one is best before you purchase from any of these retailers. And remember, just because a product gets a ton of 5-star reviews doesn’t make it the best product. See our article on that HERE . . . .
These are some of the best places to buy supplements.
- Lucky Vitamin
- The Vitamin Shoppe
- Well.ca – in Canada
- Thrive Market
- Amazon – Just know what you’re looking for and only buy from the verified manufacturers
Most retailers are trustworthy in regards to their business practices but do not believe or rely on them to only sell the best supplements available because that is rarely the case. The best place to buy supplements is at reputable in-line or brick and mortar stores but know what you want before you buy to be sure you are getting the best possible supplement for your needs.
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