Vitamin capsules in assorted colors.


Supplements can differ in effectiveness by brand


by guest author M.E.

Initial success for mild arthritis

The first brand of glucosamine sulfate I tried for early arthritis symptoms cleared them up after just a few weeks. It was a “house” brand at a local drugstore chain. Let’s call it Brand A. After a year or two I noticed that the store’s house supplements had all new labels. A nice new look. But a month or so later my arthritis signs were mysteriously returning.

Tracking suppliers like a hound dog

Some phone calls determined that the chain had switched suppliers, but the old manufacturer also supplied another chain in my area. I was soon back on the original formulation and within weeks I was back in shape.

Stroke of luck: a second brand works

When this retailer dropped its house brand, they recommended a national brand which worked just as well. (I had no idea how lucky that was.) Let’s call it Brand B. Then more good luck – we moved away but now internet retailing had arrived and Brand B was readily available online.

Repeated self-experiments confirm the effect

Every couple of years I would think “this is ridiculous” and try a new brand I had come to like for other supplements. None of them worked. Weird.

Time flies and, after a decade or more, the symptoms reappeared and I wondered if it’s just part of getting older. Increased dosage to no avail. Bummer. Six weeks (to the day!) went by after I opened a new bottle before I noticed it was not Brand B. Adding insult to injury, it was my own mistake – the labels are similar and I clicked on the wrong brand when comparing prices online. Good grief. Within days a new supply of the real Brand B arrived and in a few weeks the symptoms began to disappear. Whew.

Concluding thoughts

  1. Scientific studies comparing the effectiveness of particular brands on your unique body are, shall we say, hard to come by.
  2. A self-administered study making use of a placebo effect by definition eliminates the possibility of testing a placebo effect.
  3. With some types of supplements, the specific brand used may make a difference to some people but it may take dumb luck to figure it out.

When this content was published or posted

This content was originally posted in October 2012 and updated in March 2023.

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