Many of you have asked me variations of the following questions:
- How do I know what supplements are good and which ones are junk?
- How do I know which supplement brands are reliable?
- Where should I buy my supplements?
I put my answer to these questions into a short video on YouTube. The fuller version of the story is as follows:
The whole story on nutritional supplements
For about five years, after I first opened my website, I sold nutritional supplements online. I sold only brands I used for myself, my family, and my clients, brands that are considered “doctor brands”.
“Doctor brands” are the supplement lines usually carried in the offices of people who practice functional medicine, licensed naturopaths and functional nutritionists (like me). They include high-end lines like Vital Nutrients, Thorne Research, Designs for Health, Allergy Research, Douglas Labs, which are not readily available to the average person.
You can get these brands—sometimes—on Amazon.
But don’t. I’ll tell you why in a minute.
Back to the story.
I’d painstakingly comb through the catalogs of these high-end vitamin lines, and choose the formulas I liked. In a short time, I had curated a nice boutique catalog of about 250 or so products, most of which I used in my private practice and with my family.
We bought in (small) volume from the top professional distributor in the country (then, as now, Emerson Ecologics) and sold at retail or with 10% discount for patients.
And that worked fine—until Amazon took over the world. (Don’t get me wrong—I love Amazon. But they had a very definite effect on the supplement industry, and most of it was not good. More on that in a moment.)
So why didn’t health professionals like me just send our patients to Emerson directly?
Simple. Because Emerson doesn’t sell to the general public.
Now, you might well ask, why does it matter? I can get magnesium anywhere including Costco and CVS, and I can even find some of these elite brands you’re talking about on Amazon.
Yes, you can.
But there’s a problem.
Let’s start with magnesium because it’s a great example of why doctors and health professionals sell supplements in their offices in the first place.
If you came into my office and I told you I want you to take magnesium every day, you’d go out and find it on Amazon and that would be that. Maybe you’d pick a popular brand- like Twinlab—and figure you’re good.
But Twinlab’s popular magnesium is 100% magnesium oxide, the cheapest and least absorbable form of magnesium. There’s also magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate, magnesium threonate, magnesium chelate…. You get the idea. All have different profiles and different uses. Not to mention different doses and different bioavailability.
But even if I told you I want you to specifically take “Doctor Brand Magnesium Formula XYZ” we’d still be in trouble. Because the only place you could find it would be on Amazon, and now I’ll tell you why buying it there is a bad idea.
Most of the doctor brands sold on Amazon are fakes, counterfeit or expired.
I know this for a fact because I’ve talked to the CEOs of many of the companies whose products are being sold illegally. I meet these vitamin company reps at shows and medical conferences where they exhibit, such as the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine or the Scripps Annual Conference on Evidence-Based Supplements. I’ve known most of them for a long time.
And I can tell you that none of them authorize their stuff being sold on Amazon, and they vigorously pursue legal action against anyone selling it. And that includes just about 100% of the Amazon resellers of high-end vitamins and supplements. My contacts at these companies tell me that invariably, the stuff the unauthorized folks are selling illegally on Amazon turns out to be either expired, re-cycled returns, counterfeit, or made in China.
FINALLY, A SOLUTION
So if you want authentic versions of the best supplements sold in America, what should you do?
Glad you asked.
Emerson now offers an online pharmacy called WELLEVATE, on which patients can now order any products in the Emerson catalog. All you have to do is sign up under the name of a health professional (MD, PhD, ND, etc) who already has a clinical/professional account.
I have had such an account for almost 25 years, and now, through my patients’ Wellevate portal, I am thrilled to say I can offer the entire Emerson catalogue to you, including all the products I use myself.
SIGN UP FOR WELLEVATE
Here’s how you shop at the Wellevate Pharmacy. It’s an EASY three-step process.
- Go to www.wellevate.com/jonnybowden
- Pick a username and password and sign up for your own account
- Browse the catalogue and order anything you like.
And be confident knowing that you’re choosing from the best brands of nutritional supplements in the world.
And you’ll get a 10% discount on anything you order through that link.
The reason I rarely mentioned brands before this
In the past, I rarely mentioned specific brands when talking about nutritional supplements, because I knew in my heart it would be almost impossible for you to find the ones I used, so why tell you about them?
Now that I know you have a way to purchase the authentic versions of the same products I use, I’ll be much freer in mentioning the brand names of the products that fill my personal vitamin/medicine cabinet.
So even if you don’t buy anything right now, go over to wellevate.com and sign up for an account.
It’ll come in handy.
PS. When I worked as a clinical nutritionist in New York, I worked with a well-known MD who practiced integrative, functional and nutritional medicine. He had a sign in his office that read as follows:
Don’t Look For Bargains In:
- Nutritional Supplements
It’s as true today as it was 20 years ago.