Pricing of natural supplements impacts our choices. You might wonder why a column on natural health would be about product pricing – how much something costs is an important aspect in choosing the right supplements to take.
I assume that everyone takes supplements to be healthier – otherwise why bother? But the question I ask is “are your supplements making you healthier?” I see many supplements in my day to day business – those that I sell, those from vendors who want me to sell theirs, and those that people bring in to show me what they are taking.
At least half of what I see is not worth taking. Before I go further, I would like to say that nutritional supplements are big business – really big business. Vitamins and herbs used to be manufactured by companies that were trying to make the best products to get the best results. However, over time, our wonderful American system gave birth to those who could use cheap raw materials and cheap manufacturing processes and make products that make them money – regardless of whether they actually work or are good for you.
Most people don’t realize that the cheaper products are made from ingredients that are rejected by the companies that test for quality. When a company tests their raw materials, the ingredients that do not meet the quality standards are bought by the companies that make cheap products. These companies can make cheap products because they do not test and they buy low quality ingredients. On supplements, this is an important concept. Ingredients that are below quality standards for the companies that test have something wrong with them - they tend to be the wrong form, have some form of contamination, or simply do not have the right chemical components to work like they should.
On the other side of the pricing issue is products that are marked up more than they should be. I see this with internet and television marketing. Many times products sold this way cost 3 times what they should cost. These products are never that special - there are always good quality, similar products available without the excessive mark-up at traditional health food stores.
Other products that cost too much are those sold by multi-level marketing schemes - also known as pyramids. Most products sold this way are marked up an extra 50-100 percent so that the bonus payments can be made to those “upstream”. In a multi-level marketing scheme, the cheapest price offered is about what that product should cost if sold in a traditional retail store. The extra fees and excess product costs go to the top of the pyramid. Very few of the multi-level products are truly unique and most are medium quality at best - yet many people are willing to pay a premium because of how the products are marketed.
Remember, in a world where money is the motivating factor, absolutely nothing is safe and the only way you can be sure of getting products that will actually help build your health at fair prices is to learn about quality, learn to read labels and to be discerning about what is behind pricing differences.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas. www.naturalcowgirl.wordpress.com