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by Health By Principle

Is it Safe to Order Vitamins Online?


By: Elizabeth Foley 


Those familiar with the benefits of dietary supplements are tasked with evaluating the best source to purchase them. Though vitamins and supplements are widely available in brick-and-mortar stores, online shopping has become the top choice for many consumers.  

Monthly subscriptions to vitamin companies online are a convenient option that takes one less task off a long to-do list. However, it is important to question whether a retailer that sells vitamins online is meeting the highest safety standards. Here is what to look for when selecting a vitamin company online.  


Safety Regulations for Vitamin Companies Online  

It is important to understand the truth about supplement and vitamin safety regulations when searching for the best vitamin companies online. Look for a manufacturer that is a compliant GMP facility to purchase the safest products available to consumers. The FDA regulates vitamins, establishes the Guide for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and certifies GMP facilities. The FDA does not require vitamin and dietary supplement manufacturers to take part in their certification program. However, the FDA does enforce GMP regulations, and failure to adhere to the established guidelines can result in substantial fines, product recalls, inventory seizures, and even jail time.  

Purchasing vitamins from a manufacturer that voluntarily pursues a GMP certification is key to obtaining a safe product. There is a risk that vitamin and supplement manufacturers that are not GMP-certified may distribute an inferior or even unsafe product. When this happens, the FDA only becomes aware of the problem after receiving consumer complaints. This triggers an investigation and punitive measures such as product recalls and fines. Unfortunately, in this system, when purchasing a product from a company that is not GMP certified; several consumers will be harmed before the FDA can take action and remove the product.  


What are the GMP Guidelines for Vitamin Companies Online? 

When a vitamin manufacturer elects to register with the FDA they inspect the facility to make sure GMP standards are being met. The FDA will give the manufacturing facility a rating and acceptance letter confirming they have met the requirements to enter the GMP certification program. All manufacturing facilities are inspected on categories including but not limited to: 

  • sanitation  
  • cleanliness 
  • equipment verification 
  • purity testing  
  • record-keeping 
  • product complaints 

The GMP certification is very important because it is nearly impossible to determine if a vitamin is effective or more importantly safe by simply looking at the capsule. 


Marketing Claims from Vitamin Companies Online  

It can be difficult for consumers to determine if a supplement actually lives up to marketing claims. The FDA allows supplement complaints to make only three types of claims on product labels:  

  • Health claims  
  • Nutrient content claims 
  • Structure/function claims 

A manufacturer has 30 days to submit evidence substantiating a health claim to the FDA or face a product recall and other punitive measures. For structure/function claims a disclaimer that reads “This statement has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." must also be displayed on the product label. 

Due to the variety of marketing claims made by supplement companies, the FDA urges consumers to be safe and informed by consulting a medical professional before using a dietary supplement. Supplements may not be safe for all people because they contain ingredients that have strong biological effects. A doctor or pharmacist can evaluate possible health complications that may arise from an individual's preexisting health conditions and current medication schedule.  


The Bottom Line  

Ordering vitamins online can be done safely from a trusted GMP certified manufacturer. Safety regulations are in place to protect consumers from ineffective and sometimes dangerous dietary supplements. Still, the best way to ensure a product is both safe and effective is by speaking with a healthcare provider and researching the company's manufacturing practices.  



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