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Some Supplements Mislead Buyers on Dosing and Strength

We recently got an email from Diana B. who had just bought some calcium supplements. The front of the bottle said 1000 mg. and that there were 90 capsules inside. She reasonably believed she was buying a three-month supply.

Here is a similar, but larger bottle:

Solaray 1000

She discovered when looking at the back of the bottle, that in order to get the 1000 mg. of calcium promised on the front of the bottle she had to take four capsules.


Solaray Nutrition Label

We asked the company, Solaray, why they don’t disclose that on the front of the bottle to prevent purchasers from being misled. The company did not respond. What they recently have done, it appears, is to add the words “per serving” in small print.

Solaray per serving

Would that put prospective purchasers on sufficient notice that you needed to take four capsules to get the stated amount of calcium? We don’t think so. A better approach is what GNC has done right on the front of its calcium citrate label.

GNC Calcium

They say, albeit in tiny print, that you need to take four caplets to get the stated amount of calcium, and separately the number of days you get out of each bottle.

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16 thoughts on “Some Supplements Mislead Buyers on Dosing and Strength”

  1. Since I realized this, I’ve found myself standing in store aisles for 20 minutes trying to find the supplement that doesn’t require 3-4 pills to get the full dose. Add this to trying to figure out based on unit pricing what the best value is, and I end up needing a calculator. It’s one of the latest shill games companies are playing to keep us too confused to see how they are charging us more and more for less and less. Also, the slack fill is getting worse in supplement bottles. I am regularly seeing supplements whose contents take up 25% or less of the bottle. I see huge boxes with smaller bottles inside with even less in them all the time relative to the size of the packaging. And let’s not even talk about how all of this impacts the environment in the long run!

    • IMO there is a strong case for unit pricing of these types of products to be in terms of some amount of the active ingredient rather than per tablet.

  2. You can go to Walmart and buy Spring Valley brand Calcium in various milligrams clearly labeled on the front of the bottle indicating per capsule. Also may include vitamin D. Best part is they are priced right.

  3. Both my probiotic and my Fish Oil capsules require 2 pills to hit the stated dosage, making the bottles last less than you’ expect, and of course less of a value than you’d think

  4. I recently signed up for consumerlabs.com. It’s like Consumer reports but for supplements – finds good deals but also tests what’s actually inside the bottle. Very science-y. If only the laws would be changed so the FDA would oversee supplements. Orin Hatch was a pill-pushing huckster before he got into Congress and made sure that wouldn’t happen.

      • You do need to pay for Consumerlabs, but the comparable company that RJ mentioned is Consumer Reports (which you also have to pay for) as opposed to Consumer World (to which this blog is a service of.)

  5. This is clearly misrepresentation. You think you’re buying enough to last for 3 months, but if you follow their guidelines, you’re only getting a month’s worth. There’s a reason they don’t put this on the front of the bottle. Consumer’s are looking to by the best product at the lowest price.

    Why not make the consumer think they’re getting a deal? It’s a clear example of “bait and switch.”

  6. This is definitely on the extreme end of some of the mislabeling issues presented here. I would probably put this close to the Barilla pasta boxes that were the same size, but 2oz less of pasta for sure.

    This is clear and deliberate misrepresentation. Sorry I can’t believe that someone created this packaging honestly believing that consumers will understand they need to take four tablets to reach the stated amount on the bottle. At that point why not just put 30,000mg on the bottle since that’s how much of the vitamin is in the bottle.

  7. People, just read the fricking label! 🙄 It’s not rocket science. As for calcium, buy Tums, the ultra-strength has 1000 mg in ONE tablet!

  8. The label confused me.
    I would expect that the strength of one tablet or pill would be one the front of the bottle. Then, in the dosing directions, there would be the need to take, in this case, four of the pills to get the desired 1000mg

    Very deceptive. Would the FDA or FTC have jurisdiction on a matter like this?

  9. This game they play with consumers sis not new at all!
    AS a regular customer at iHerb I have fallen (more than once) into this misrepresentation of dosage. The shop / producer might be legally ok ,
    on the web site / label at the shop
    before purchasing a product!!!
    Many products present the quantity versus dosage in a deliberately misleading or confusing manner

  10. I have always looked at the number of pills per serving. I needed to reorder VitaCost Total Mins and when I saw their new bottle, I was immediately suspicious. Label had changed and no ingredients listed on the web page. I had to go hunting and there it was confirming my suspicions. A serving of VitaCost Total Mins went from 2 tabs to 5 tabs per day. Needless to say I found 2 other brands that are 1 to 2 tabs a day for the same or even more supplements per serving.

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