When a Good Deal Can Be a Really Bad Deal

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition, Nutrients and Additives
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

When it comes to supplements, don't be seduced by low prices--since you may be getting less than you bargained for!More than ten years ago, when I started aggressively using coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to treat congestive heart failure (CHF), some patients would perk up initially but when they came back, I’d hear one of two reactions.

Some would say, “Whoa, Doc! I got my life back!” while others would say, “What am I taking? It doesn’t seem to have helped at all.”

What was going on? I started doing my own research. I became more experienced at using higher doses, but some folks still didn’t feel any better, even at higher doses.

When I started asking questions, I found out that many of those “unperked” people were taking advantage of the latest sale on CoQ10. So I asked them to bring me the CoQ10 they were using, and I started mailing it off to be assessed. Bingo! I can’t tell you how many CoQ10 products didn’t have anywhere near the strength that the label stated.

No wonder these patients weren’t feeling any better. In fact one “discount-priced” CoQ10 from a pharmacy had only 1 mg of active CoQ10, but the bottle claimed 30 mg per capsule inside. Imagine thinking you are taking 150 mg and getting only 5 mg. That’s when I decided to formulate my own CoQ10 supplements.

So, what can you do to ensure you’re getting high-quality CoQ10, or any supplement for that matter? 

  • Don’t be seduced by the price-busting promotions you might see on TV shopping channels, the Internet, or in a warehouse store. Good brands are sold these ways but you need to be an informed shopper.
  • Ask questions before you buy. Make sure that any supplement you buy does what I do with all of my formulas, ensures that the raw materials are tested and that every single batch is screened for purity and potency. After what I saw with those so-called "bargain" supplements, I adopted a triple-testing regimen.
  • Also, don’t switch brands solely based on cost. For instance, sometimes a supplement will come with a really low price tag because it’s coming up on its expiration date and needs to be sold quickly. Check the label date. If the “sell by” or expiration date gives you enough time to use the product, it could be a good deal. But if there’s no expiration date, it’s very likely to be a shady product.

Now it’s your turn: What do you look for in supplements you buy?

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