Supplements: A Complete Guide to Buying Online


supplement buying guide

Nutritional supplements are highly popular both in North America and around the world.

According to a survey in October 2018, 75 percent of US adults take some type of dietary supplement.

A 2015 Canadian report shows that 45.6 percent of Canadians, adults and children, use at least one nutritional supplement.1,2

Consumers are more focused than ever on the benefits of achieving optimum health.

This means that with an increased awareness towards health and fitness, the number of people using natural supplements is expected to continue to rise each year.

The main types of natural supplements being bought include vitamins and minerals, weight management supplements, sports nutrition products, and those labelled as specialty supplements that target a specific health issue such as immune support, bone and joint health, and boosting hormone levels such as testosterone.

Vitamins and minerals are at the top of the list, as North Americans purchase a wide variety of supplements to boost their health.

Also popular are protein supplements which are used by athletes to gain muscle, for people managing their weight, and for anyone wanting to increase their daily amount of protein.

Other natural supplements purchased online include products for pre and post fitness workouts and testosterone supplements.

Supplementation Myths You Need to Avoid

Supplements are a great way to make sure your body is getting the nutrients and vitamins it needs to function. They can also be very useful in treating ailments and conditions without having to rely solely on powerful pharmaceutical drugs.

There are a huge number of supplements available, and it is easy to make some basic mistakes when you first start taking supplements as a part of a healthier lifestyle, your diet, or to treat an ailment. Here we are going to take a look at five of the greatest blunders you can make when you start taking supplements, and how to avoid them.

You Don’t Need Supplements if You Have a Healthy Diet

This simply isn’t true. You can eat a healthy and varied diet and still miss out on key vitamins and nutrients. Many vegetarians and vegans, for example, struggle to include enough iron in their diet and often suffer from anemic and auto-immune deficiencies as a result. They are still eating a healthy and balanced diet, however.

Most people need some sort of vitamin, mineral, or nutrient boost to their diet, and supplements can help them get a better balance of these in their system, leading to a healthier lifestyle. Supplements are a great supplement to any diet.

All Supplements Are the Same, Branding Doesn’t Make a Difference

This is another fallacy that too many people believe. The supplement industry is not regulated to the same degree that foodstuffs or medications are, and this can often lead to sub-standard and poorly designed supplements being sold on the market, often in main street stores and sometimes under big brand names.

There are some independent agencies that test and evaluate supplements, and many carry their seal of approval on their labeling. Look out for supplements that have been tested and approved by GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), The NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), and USP which indicates that the supplement is made from pharmaceutical grade ingredients.

It Doesn’t Matter When You Take Your Supplements or With What

Some nutrients and supplements are better taken on an empty stomach, and some with food. Probiotic supplements need to be taken on an empty stomach, for instance. When taking a supplement with food, it can make a difference what foods you consume with it.

Grains contain phytates which can bind themselves to nutrients during digestion and prevent nutrient absorption. The caffeine in coffee and tea can also prevent some vitamins and minerals from being absorbed, and completely prevents the absorption of creatine.

All Vitamins in All Their Forms Do the Same Job

Not all vitamins come in the same form, and some are better than others for treating certain ailments, or for people with certain digestive conditions, so experiment a little to find out which is best for you.

There is a lot of natural iron in green leaves like kale and spinach, for example, but this can often be in small amounts and difficult for the stomach to absorb large amounts of. Vegetarians and vegans should take iron supplements, rather than relying on large portions of green leafy vegetables. Some vegans can struggle to find suitable supplements. If you are vegan, when you look at a supplement’s ingredients make sure that they are vegan friendly.

You Can Feel the Effects of an Individual Supplement Right Away

This is a big mistake that many people make. Many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals take time to build up in your system. Thinking you will take a supplement and feel its effects within an hour or two simply isn’t the case.

This can also lead to a lot of time-consuming pill taking that is impractical and inconvenient. It can take a week or up to a month to see the positive effects of taking regular supplements.

Hopefully, this guide will help you avoid some of the common mistakes people make when they first start taking supplements as part of a healthier lifestyle.

Popular Nutritional Supplements

Here are the most popular natural supplements being sold online in 2019, including information about who is using these supplements and what health benefits they may have.


multivitaminsUsed by children, women, pregnant women, men, and seniors, multivitamins are widely recommended by doctors and other health professionals. Used as a natural supplement, multivitamins are an affordable, cost effective, and convenient way to increase daily amounts of vitamins and minerals. When used in combination with a healthy diet, multivitamins may help to maintain and improve health.3

As well, multivitamins may help to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to poor nutrition and may also be beneficial to those who have a chronic illness or health condition.

When it comes to the types of multivitamins available, the list is extensive. There are once-a-day multivitamins for children, women, men, and seniors that contain the Daily Value (DV) and Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and iron. Also available are multivitamins that are recommended by doctors during pregnancy.

Protein Supplements

protein powderProtein supplements are used by consumers who want to increase their daily intake of protein. This includes athletes and those focused on fitness and exercise. It also includes those people who are counting macros and eating a precise a ratio of protein, fat, and carbs each day. Studies done indicate that adequate protein intake may aid weight loss and also maintain lean muscle mass.4

There are different types of natural protein supplements available made with a variety of ingredients such as whey or casein, or a combination of both. Also available are protein supplements that are marketed as vegan – these are made from soy, pea, and rice.

Testosterone Support

Natural testosterone supplements are another top selling product for men. As men age, their testosterone levels naturally start to deplete, which can cause numerous health concerns. This can include a loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, loss of muscle mass and muscle strength, depression, and brain fog.5

Natural supplements may help to improve testosterone levels for men, easing some of the symptoms of low T. There are various supplements available online, like HF Labs Delta Prime, which include natural ingredients to boost testosterone like tonkatali, saw palmetto, and stinging nettle.6,7,8Online there are many HexoFire Delta Prime reviews that praise the selection of natural, effective ingredients in the product.

Pre Workouts

Natural supplements for pre workouts are typically used before exercising. People who want to increase power and endurance during their workouts buy natural pre workout supplements to boost their energy. The natural ingredients found in pre workout supplements may help to optimize performance. These supplements are made with a variety of different ingredients either on their own in combination with B vitamins, carbs, antioxidants and caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to improve strength and muscle power.9

Other natural supplement ingredients include protein and beta-alanine, which may help to improve fitness performance and reduce muscle fatigue.10

Post Workouts

Multi VitaminsNatural post workout supplements are used during the recovery phase after a workout. These natural supplements may help repair tissue and muscle while also helping to replenish nutrients lost during a workout.

Post workout supplements may shorten the recovery time by using natural ingredients in the supplement such as probiotics, L-glutamine, and arginine. L-glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that is depleted during a workout – including this ingredient in a post workout supplement helps replenish glutamine levels and may also decrease muscle soreness. Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid that is also depleted during a workout; supplementing arginine may speed the post workout recovery period.11,12

Buying Supplements Online vs. In-Store

One of the best reasons to buy supplements online is the convenience. There’s no need to travel to the store to purchase the supplements you need.

Another benefit of buying online is that you can review and compare products and prices across multiple online stores at one time.

Online shopping also gives you access to reviews of products by other consumers. You can read about their satisfaction with both the product and the service. This allows you to compare and research the natural supplements you’re interested in before you make the decision to buy.

Another benefit of online shopping is the selection – you’ll have more products to choose from than if you shop in local stores. The wide array of online retailers provides a huge selection of natural products that you can choose from based on ingredients, price, and customer reviews.

Buying supplements through an online supplement supplier also means that prices are more competitive. The product you’re buying is sold directly to you and not being sold through a secondary source. You can also easily source supplements at wholesale online.

Product Quality

Online stores rely on their reputation to succeed – this means they need to stand behind the natural supplement products they sell. Reputable online retailers in the US will sell quality products that meet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines as well as the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), which are the minimum standards that manufacturers need to meet in order to ensure that their supplements are of high quality.13

Delivery Convenience of Buying Supplements Online

Many quality and reputable online retailers are now offering the convenience of signing up for subscriptions on those products that you regularly buy. This eliminates the need for you to remember to place another order and also ensures that you never run out of the natural supplements that you use every day. You set the cycle for your selected products, such as every 30 to 90 days, at which time the supplement is shipped directly to your door.

Tips for Buying Supplements Online

Here are the top tips for buying supplements online:

  • Compare online retailers.
  • Look for retailers that guarantee their product and have a return policy if you’re not satisfied.
  • Confirm that you’re buying from an official site with an approved retailer. Check to be sure they meet the FDA and GMP guidelines and rules. Also check to see if they have a listing or review by the Better Business Bureau.
  • Thoroughly read product descriptions.
  • Read consumer reviews of the first-hand experiences of other customers.

Five Things You Need to Know Before Buying Supplements

The supplement market is one that has grown drastically over the past decade. Today consumers are provided with a massive amount of choice when it comes to what supplements they purchase, as the whole entire industry has become so mainstream.

And while that injection of choice and options is a definite positive, it has also made it a bit confusing from a consumer’s standpoint.

The fact is that not all supplements are made equal, from the ingredients they use, to their packaging methods. These inequalities can mean they are less effective, and won’t give you the results you’re after.

So how can you as a consumer ensure that you aren’t getting ripped off when you’re purchasing supplements? We’ve got some handy tips you can use.

Understand They Aren’t Regulated by the FDA

One thing that can come as a shock to consumers is the fact that supplements aren’t exactly highly regulated. You may be under the impression that the US Food and Drug Administration regulates them, just like they do for pharmaceutical drugs.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case at all.Without those regulations in place, there aren’t those strict rules regarding the purity of the ingredients, clinical trials and the results, and even marketing claims.

What this means is that you need to take a skeptical and quizzical approach with supplements, and not necessarily believe the hype surrounding them. That’s not to say that all the claims made about them are wrong or a lie, it just means it’s wise to ask questions.

Ask Your Doctor If You Would Benefit from the Supplement

Another tip before starting supplements is to speak to your doctor and ask if you would benefit. There are probably a whole range of supplements that would be great for you, just as there are ones that aren’t necessary or may even interact in a negative way with your body or medications you may be taking.

Always Buy from a Reputable Source

The next step is to really question where the supplement is coming from, and where it’s made. Buying from a reputable source means they’ve put the work into creating that positive brand image, they stand behind their product, and they have created a loyal customer-based. There are always going to be newcomers in the industries, but you want to be able to weed out the fly-by-the-night operations that are just releasing a product to make a quick dollar.

Where Are the Ingredients Being Sourced From?

You also want to look into where the ingredients are being sourced from. Take the CBD market as an example, which is absolutely massive right now. Here’s the thing, these products vary drastically in terms of the hemp being used, which will affect the quality and results you get. You want to be sure that the company providing the product has sourced reputable hemp from a company like US Hemp Wholesale, which is known as a good company to work with. US Hemp Wholesale is actually setting the bar for the highest-quality consumable hemp-derived CBD products.

Single Ingredient Supplements Mean Less Contamination

Finally, you want to try to choose single ingredient supplements whenever possible, as this means there is less chance of contamination so you’re getting a purer form of the product. Any time you see wording such as “proprietary blends”, this signals that multiple ingredients are being used, and there are no regulations that state the company has to specify just how much of each ingredient is in there.


When it comes to supplements, it’s all about being an informed consumer, asking questions, and doing a little research to ensure that you’re getting the highest quality supplements out there.

Following the tips in this guide will ensure you’re buying only quality products. Remember, though, just consult with your doctor before you start taking any supplement.


  1. (2018). 2018 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements. Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from
  2. Statistics Canada. (2017). Use of nutritional supplements, 2015. Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from
  3. Blumberg, JB. & Bailey RL. (2018). The Evolving Role of Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplement Use among Adults in the Age of Personalized Nutrition. 10(2): 248.Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from
  4. Joy, JM. & Lowery, RP. (2013). The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance. Nutr J. 12: 86. Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from
  5. Jia, H. & Sullivan, CT. (2015). Review of health risks of low testosterone and testosterone administration. World J Clin Cases. 3(4): 338-344. Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from
  6. Erasmus, N. & Solomon, MC. (2012).Effect of Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat ali) extract on human spermatozoa in vitro. Andrologia. 44: 301-314. Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from
  7. Gunnels, TA. &Bloomer, RJ. (2014). Increasing Circulating Testosterone: Impact of Herbal Dietary Supplements. J Plant Biochem Physiol. 2:130. Retrieved on May 17 from
  8. Huat-Chye, PL. (2006).Traditional Asian folklore medicines in sexual health. Volume 22 – Issue 3: 241-245. Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from;year=2006;volume=22;issue=3;spage=241;epage=245;aulas
  9. Grgic, J. & Trexler, ET. (2018).Effects of caffeine intake on muscle strength and power: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 15: 11. Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from
  10. Trexler, ET.& Smith-Ryan, AE. (2018).International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 12:30. Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from
  11. Legault, Z. & Bagnall, N. (2015).The Influence of Oral L-Glutamine Supplementation on Muscle Strength Recovery and Soreness Following Unilateral Knee Extension Eccentric Exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 25(5): 417-26.Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from
  12. Tsai, PH. & Tang, TK. (2009).Effects of arginine supplementation on post-exercise metabolic responses. Clin J Physiol. 52(3): 136-42. Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from
  13. (2019).Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Resources. Retrieved on May 17, 2019 from

About Jason Spencer

Jason Spencer has a tremendous enthusiasm for all facets of health, fitness and physical performance that stems from an athletic lifestyle from childhood. Jason was fortunate enough to compete in collegiate football and learned to love the challenges that physical activity placed on the body. As Jason progressed through his higher education and became increasingly aware of how science is applied to physical activity and how it reveals the benefits of exercise, he realized very quickly that he wanted to pursue a career that gives him the opportunity to teach others to compete, challenge, and push themselves towards something more valuable to them than anything else; health, fitness and self worth. Being a fitness professional allows Jason to do this for them and he is always incredibly grateful for that. Jason has a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. Neuroscience and his acquired knowledge of the nervous system and muscle stimulation techniques has been extremely instrumental towards building a unique ability and feel for training the body for optimal form and function. As a personal trainer he is certified with ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine). He's also a strength & conditioning specialist with NSCA (National Strength & Conditioning Association). He has additional certifications in both kettlebell principles & techniques (Equinox), and Flexibility & Corrective Exercise (Swedish Institute of Health Sciences in NY). Jason has worked as a trainer and conditioning specialist in a variety of fitness facilities over the years such as: LA Fitness in Piscataway, NJ, the YMCA in Metuchen, NJ, and Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York, NY. He also does private in-home sessions all over the Manhattan area.

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