Thyroid UK
89,135 members103,655 posts

A random musing: quality of supplements and is dearer necessarily better?

Like many on here I take an array of supplements but often one doesn't know whether they are actually working.

So ... should one keep to the same manufacturer? Are the cheaper ones of lesser quality?

Economics obviously dictate that one can't possibly purchase all the expensive ones so how do you go about determining the quality of supplements?

What supplements can one sensibly economise on?

Looking forward to some interesting replies!!

20 Replies

It's usually true that you get what you pay for, in life.

On some supps., like Omega 3, it pays to buy the more expensive brands where the quality is high, low pollutants etc, but on stuff like Magnesium citrate [well absorbed], Zinc+Copper and basics [that are right for you] H+B are as good as any, I reckon.

People moan about bulk suppliers,probably on occasion with reason - but it's more important to get on the 'right' mins/vits in the first place, try the cheapest and move up when aware of any bad points -either from use or research.

1 like

I would suggest Holland and Barrat ARE one of the expensive brands! I can't remember the last time they came up cheaper for anything I have ever bought! OK, buying from multiple sources is a pain, but it adds up to a lot over a year for me.


I only buy the 1/2 price offers ! [Penny sale] as much as possible. Agreed , not the cheapest.


They do have some good offers but whether their products are good quality or not, I don't know. I do tend to buy from lots of different places and, as you say, it does add up.


Thanks for replying tegz.

How do you quantify that a supplement is working? Is it necessarily obvious when, for example, you're not having a specific blood test?

As an example, for donkeys years I've taken iron and glucosamine. I know they work as when I've stopped taking them the lethargy (in the case of iron) and joint aches (in the case of glucosamine) returns quickly.

So ... take vit D, B12, co-q10 - can't say I feel any different despite taking vit D and B12 for a long time.

You say 'get on the right vits/mins in the first place' which makes sense but is there necessarily an improvement to be made? And how do you know what's working?

Sorry, my brain fog is particularly bad right now but just need to get my head around this subject although I may not make much sense!!


The D3 is the one to take, not D2- if you check. Sunshine is best but not much good in our winter!

B12 is best as Methylcolbamin- both these can be sublingual for easy assimilation not cheap but easy on Amazon.

I use Ubiquitin instead of CoQ10.

[Most of us have left over vits from trials which may or may not get used up but not those above].

Only trial and error works as you have done -if no blood tests done for specifics.

Trouble is, Docs have been owned by Pharma since forever and don't do much, if any, nutrition.

In some cases it is definitely a waste of money if no benefit felt, in others it takes time to build up stores [B12, D] - I know that surveys have shown Magnesium and Zinc are often low in general population and they can be helpful as supplememts.

If you have doubts but you need to read up on it ,or see a nutritionist.

I take a break from time to time anyway to check progress.

VitC in large doses can make the body lazy and coming off needs tailing off.

It also causes many nutrients to be flushed through if in large doses as it is a diuretic too.

Bottom line is supplements have caused very minimal problems [if not zero] over the years.

The same is not true of allopathic medicine.


Thanks tegz. I'm going to carry out a 'review' of my supplements that will no doubt involve replacing some! Particular attention will be paid to the ingredients and the link from Angel_of_the_North is most useful.

I thought Ubiquinol was the best form of Co-Q10?

There's been some mention on here of magnesium so will need to read up on that.

Interesting that you say you take a break from supplements - how long for?


Magnesium... Dr MyHills site:

I buy Magnesium chloride from eBay and make up a solution as her "recipe" and spray it on..... it's what gets sold for much more as "magnesium oil" but dramatically cheaper.


Yes- Ubiqunol is pricey, but much more effective.

As to breaks, I just purposely forget to take them every day and sometimes give up for a while, totally. I had a low Mag. reading so happy to take every/most days.

Zinc is needed by men more than women. Iron, t'other way round.

Unscientific, but long term dosing without proper monitoring is not necessarily good.

But, I look well :) PS: my pic is purposely bad... ;)


Well, it's worth looking at the actual ingredients. Cheap supplements usually use the more inactive, cheaper versions of vitamins and minerals - eg calcium carbonate (you might as well suck the white cliffs of Dover) in small quantities - they also use synthetic ingredients (without their necessary co-factors) made from petroleum, and loads of fillers. Something like Centrum is probably worse than nothing.

This article is interesting:


This was an interesting read but wish there were a UK version. I've seen 'pharmaceutical grade' mentioned on a UK website - does that actually mean anything?

Now wondering whether my vit D, obtained for the princely sum of £10 and will last a year, does actually do anything. Despite taking 5,000IU, after testing it was higher but not hugely so.

Of course the other problem is that one needs a magnifying glass to read the tiny print!

Thanks for the link and definitely food for thought.


I think you find that with any brand as far as vit D3 is concerned... it simply is not easy to take in.... hence the reason some take such seemingly large doses.


There is, obviously, a cost below which a manufacturer cannot make good quality products.

But there is no limit on how much a retailer can charge - even for poor quality products. And there are big incentives to do so. So it is necessary to be very wary.

To me, once you have decided more or less what to take, identifying a good source (decent prices, adequate delivery, reliable, etc.) is a vital step. The price difference between the lowest and highest prices for a specific product can be huge.


1 like

Thanks Rod and take your point. I'm now replacing with products by L......t and J.....w who I gather are decent quality.

Also, one assumes that supermarkets are able to sell at a good price so easy to possibly be misled there.


Feel free to mention companies!

Jarrow I know - but cannot immediately get the other one!

Supermarkets are the ultimate manipulators. Maybe sometimes good value and convenient but not always.


Yes, Jarrow and the other one is Lambert.

I think from memory that vit C was very reasonable in supermarkets, particularly if it's BOGOF.


I am not suggesting they are particular quality, and they don't do all that I use, (or all the right forms of what I use), but has anyone use before? They ship from the US, so all that it entails, (risk of having to pay VAT plus a collection fee from Royal Mail) however for some products they seem pretty good, (with the buy one get 3 offers) even including nearly 10 quid delivery.


I think that you would find that both H&B and Puritan's Pride are owned by Carlyle Group:

That does NOT mean the products are the same or anything like that (though it would, perhaps, not be too much of a surprise if they were or if they simply moved in that direction).



H+B get a hammering on occasion- but they don't do the very expensive specialist stuff [from experience-like MethylB12] and do know the 'bread and butter' market.

They do have a year round on/off sale too via offers.

If you're sensitive to fillers &/or excipients, you're going to have to shop around to get better -and pay more anyway.


Interesting, the odd product of that brand that I have used before have even had the same type of container some H&B products come in... green! ;-)


You may also like...