It is with great fear and trembling that I approach today’s subject, i.e., vitamin supplements. It seems like every time I mention vitamin supplements I make someone upset—so here is the deal: If you think vitamin and nutritional supplements are a waste of time and money then please stop reading this article and come back in a few days when I have another product review. However, if you do take supplements then this article will probably be of interest to you. In an ideal world we would be able to get all of our needed vitamins and minerals through a normal, healthy diet. Sadly, I’ve never met anyone who has been to that ideal world, so, like many of you, I take a handful of supplements every day.
The problem many of us have with taking supplements is finding a place where we can read current, accurate information about the quality, dosage, and side effects of the vitamins we take. For the past several years I have subscribed to ConsumerLab.com, an “impartial and independent third-party evaluator of health and nutrition products.” To put it simply, ConsumerLab.com tests many different brands of supplements and then makes a report about how each brand stacks up. It is amazing to me how many times a company will sell of bottle of vitamins that claims, for example, to have 100 mg of vitamin C in each tablet, but after testing it is revealed that each that it only has 60 mg. of vitamin C per tablet. ConsumerLab.com recently reviewed nearly fifty different brands of Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10) and they found one brand that only had 3.8% of the amount of CoQ-10 that was listed on the label! However, under-reporting the active ingredients is only half of the story—many supplements also contain contaminates! Do you really want to take a vitamin supplement that has lead in it?
In addition to rating the contents of the supplements, ConsumerLab.com also does a price comparison for all the brands they review. One of the biggest things I’ve learned from reading their reviews is that the price of a supplement has almost no correlation to the quality. Sometimes the most expensive brand of a certain vitamin will fail their tests, but one of the cheapest brands will pass with flying colors. Before they give you the test results for any vitamin or supplement they reviewed, ConsumerLab.com will also tell you what the vitamin is supposed to do and how they evaluated to product.
The membership fee to join ConsumerLab.com is $33 a year and this gives you access to all of their reviews (and there are a lot of them). I realize that many people will think $33 for an online subscription is pretty expensive, but that price is nothing compared to what some people spend on vitamins that are mislabeled, missing key ingredients or contain hazardous additives. As regular readers know, there are very few products that I have ever placed in the “highly recommended” category, but a subscription to ConsumerLab.com is definitely one of them.