recently put out an article about counterfeit vitamins and supplements that was quite revealing for our team at THI.  

We felt that the article offered some helpful ways to ensure that you’re getting what you pay for and to help avoid exposing yourself to danger when purchasing vitamins and supplements online

Potentially harmful active pharmaceuticals continue to be identified in over-the-counter dietary supplements, including but not limited to sildenafil (Viagra), sibutramine and synthetic steroids or steroid-like ingredients.

Buyer beware!

What to Consider When Purchasing Vitamins and Supplements Online

  1. Shop directly from the Brand’s website
    • If the brand does not have an ecommerce website, they will often have a “Where to Buy” page that lists distributors or retailers, some of which may also sell off Amazon or other sites such as
  2. If buying online from Amazon, be sure it’s sold by the actual brand, an authorized reseller of the brand, or Amazon itself, and that it ships from Amazon.
  3. Check for Amazon transparency codes.
    • Some products purchased on Amazon can now be verified using one of two smartphone apps (Amazon Shopping or the Transparency app). For brands that are registered with Amazon for the program, you can scan a product’s transparency code on these apps after you receive it. Amazon verifies the identity of companies that apply to participate in the transparency program. Amazon does not provide a list of participating companies or products, and brands may choose which products they enroll in the program. Consequently, consumers are left uncertain of whether the lack of a transparency code on a product means it is counterfeit.
  4. Check Product Reviews for Reported Problems
    • Pay close attention to customer reviews and photos, particularly from reviewers with past experience with a product. Be concerned if reviews or photos indicate that a product received from a particular seller arrived in unusual packaging, contains pills of a different color, size, or shape than the authentic product, or has misspellings on labels. These tell-tale signs have been spotted with counterfeit, phony supplements.
  5. What to do if you believe you have received a counterfeit product.
    • If you suspect that a product you received may be counterfeit, don’t use it.
    • If you purchased the supplement from Amazon, request a refund or exchange. Be aware that third-party sellers may have different return policies than those sold and shipped by Amazon – and some may have a no return policy, so be sure to check return and refund policies before buying.
    • Health Canada recommends that you report adverse side effects or register complaints involving drugs, natural health products or medical devices, including illegal health products.

Read the full article on Consumerlab here.

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