Supplements can differ in effectiveness by brand

by M.E.

I have discovered not only that the effectiveness of different supplement brands can vary wildly, but that they can differ from person to person.

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.

Some phone calls determined that the chain had switched suppliers, but the old manufacturer also supplied another chain in my area. After a few weeks back on Brand A I was back in shape.

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.

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.

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, brand may make a difference sometimes to some people but it may take dumb luck to figure it out.

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