Nutritional supplements online have moved from almost an underground movement to where selling or buying supplements online is now one of the hotest businesses world-wide. I shop for nutritional supplements online more than anything else. So do hundreds of thousands of others.
Competition between leading brand names is intense. But the internet gives shoppers tremendous advantages. Now we can research all over our continent, even the world, and order what we find to be the best, or the cheapest supply of nutritional supplements. If you have not yet been buying supplements online, you may feel a bit overwhelmed, so I'm offering to guide you through the basic research, and then steps to buying your nutritional supplements online in a way you can soon make your own.
I thought I'd found the best, perhaps ONLY place for buying supplements online, but in preparation for this guide I've done fresh research and discovered many more websites selling nutritional supplements online. I'm almost beside myself, trying to decide which one(s) to try out next.
If, you are wondering which supplement to take for a certain condition, you ought to do that research first. Don't rely on the sales copy of the supplement sites only. For the sake of sticking to the topic at hand, let's say, for example, you already know that you want - maybe, vitamin B Complex tablets, and you want them at 100 mg strength. (That was the one I was out of and needed to buy just now).
As already stated on research before shopping online the very first step in researching a product is to put the product name into a search engine, such as Google, then visit the sites that come up to see whether they have the product and if you like the price and any shipping costs that may apply. Example: in a matter of minutes I have three tabs open in my Firefox browser; one has B Complex 100 on WebVitamins.com, and another has B Complex 100 on Puritans.com. Now I can switch back and forth to compare their ingredients and the prices, and what the shipping costs would be from each company.
At the beginning you may need to research the supplement companies too. Especially if their product deals are very similar. Once you have settled on one you can trust, you won't need to do it over again, unless you discover a new company. You can do some of that on their sites, reading up their "About us" page, and the FAQ (frequently-asked questions), and whatever else you find as you click around. Of course, you won't find them pointing out their faults or short-comings, so it is a good idea to put the company's name into the search engine and read the various sites that come up. Some of the links lead to forums where someone reports an instance of bad customer experience. If there are just a few, and they are out-weighed by positive, rave reviews, you may ignore them. (Far more people with bad experiences will write about it than those who have had a good customer experience).
At this stage your own common sense may help you to discern which company appears to have the better reputation, products and services. However, it can happen that you see two or three with about equal scores on all the points that matter to you. You may have to make your choice on little matters, such as liking the sound of the name of one better, or their website looks more attractive, or the shipping distance is shorter. If you can afford to do it, you may even want to order some things from each site, and actually compare the products and the services you get.
Some shoppers just make their decision on whether a friend likes one more than the other, or what a stranger, (like me), may recommend. Like the air we breathe, we often treat our freedom of choice lightly and give it away, don't we?
How about some criteria for evaluating nutritional supplements, and the websites that sell them online?
Sales copy is not always the best source of objective information about supplements. Study up on your health condition and what nutrients you might need from other, more ojbective sources, like books or non-commercial sites, Don't go by what you read in unsolicited emails (spam) as that is a lure to get you to spend money. Make sure the research you study is up-todate. Make sure you know why you need a certain kind of nutritional supplement, and how it will help you.
Government sites can have a lot of information, but they may not always refer kindly to supplements. They often stick to their national regulations. Evaluate them carefully too. Some things of course, you will only know from personal experience or the testimonial of others who have been through that problem before you.
Some supplement sites allow you to click on the product for another page with the detailed ingredient list, and more information. You want to look for possible side-effects, if any.
Sometimes the site selling supplements online provides a link to a document, usually PDF, which gives the scientific data on the ingredients and any scientific studies that proved this supplement's effectiveness. For more detailed research check out the footnotes and references to the studies. If those lab studies were done a long time ago, with none in recent years, and they were all done on animals and few or none written up in peer-review publications then you know to be rather suspicious of those ingredients.
Even so, you may want to be more thorough and check for other websites that have information about those nutrients in the supplements. If you are unsure, keep researching. There are answers for those who persist. Sometimes you may even want to enter into email correspondence with a site owner, when you think you might get more specific answers.
Some supplement companies are open and above board about their production facilities and their standards of cleanliness, but some are very secretive. It just makes good sense to check some federal inspection agency sites, to see whether there are any charges of non-compliance, for instance in not cleaning their equipment after a batch, before starting another. Sloppiness at that point could mean you get compromised supplements from that source. When you become convinced that a certain company has excellent standards, you can relax and order safely from them.
One myth says that if it's a natural supplement, it can't hurt you. Some herbal supplements can, and do, have a negative effect on you if taken under wrong conditions, or if you are taking some medication that would clash with the supplement. For instance, a wise staff person in a health food store pointed out to me that if I was taking antibiotics for my pnuemonia, (which also kills the good bateria that helps digest food in your digestive tract), I should wait with taking acidopholius capsules to replace to good bateria until after I'd finished the antibiotics, as they would clash and give me some fierce bowel distress. I have heeded her advice a number of times since then. It's good to check for such contraventions; your doctor may know about them.
You can not always know sometimes what kind of service you'll get when buying supplements online until you try it. So why not place just a small order at first, as a test run? See how prompt they are, and if there are any glitches that make you want to stay away. If all goes well, and you feel all your criteria have been met, you can soon place another order. In my case, I've found that some American companies have no problem sending my order through the mail, but if it is a larger box, there will be a delay while I have to go to the post office to pay extra customs duty charges. That is not the company's fault. I can learn to work around that by placing smaller orders at one time. On the other hand, some companies are afraid of dealing with such shipping issues and will refuse to fill my order - after I've already paid for it. Then there is the hassle of canceling the order and finding another supplier.
You've found a site you like, and the very supplements you are looking for, and now, how do you buy supplements online for the first time?
Simple. Once your decision has been made, click on the product or the link near it to put it your shopping cart on the site.
If you wish to add more items, click on the link, "Continue Shopping." Keep adding products to your shopping cart this way, one at a time, until you are ready to check out.
On each page of the site should be a link that says something like 'Your Shopping Cart.' Click on that to go back and find a list of the products you chose. You may increase the quantities of any if you want more, and you can delete and remove from your cart if you change your mind. just look for the appropriate link by that item. Take note of any handling or shipping fees. Also, you may find that you can enter a coupon code - which might have shown when you first arrrived on the site. Or perhaps you found one in a printed ad, catalogue or an email. That could give you a discount, so enter the code.
All looks correct? You are okay with the taxes, any extra charges, and the total? Good. Click the checkout button. Or, if the blanks are already there, first fill in your credit card or PayPal information.
You may now be interrupted with a request, asking you to login or to register first. Some sites still do that - so take time to comply. When done you will be returned to your shopping cart.
When you have entered your credit card information (and be very careful of typos in that long number!) you click the final button and wait. It takes the shopping cart software a minute or two to zip off to the credit/debit card company and make sure that you are authorized to use that number. If all goes well, the screen will change, and a success message, or thank you page will show up, with your receipt. If at all possible, I recommend that you print it out on paper for your files. You are likely to get one by email too, but just in case... (emails do disappear sometimes), it's nice to have your proof.
Look for the information as to where to track your order, if they offer that service. Jot it down. If a few days pass and your order does not arrive, you will need to use that tracking info to check into it.
Of course I have not got around to trying out all the supplement sites I've found. But I think the following are safe to use;
(Yes, I get a comission from some of these sites. :))
I highly recommend buying your nutritional supplements from Forever Living, (USA) or Forever Living (Canada). You can also choose your country from the drop down menu at very top, and shop from your nearest warehouse/outlet.
Remember, there are MANY sites where you can find nutritional supplements online. If you are particular, take your time. But beware of becoming bewildered as well.