Now that Amazon has decided to ban all sales of NMN, it’s a good time to reflect back on its rather poor track record of allowing fake sellers to saturate the NMN marketplace. Yet even with all its flaws, Amazon’s supplement channel continues to garner more supplement sales than any other retailer, including large brick-and-mortar stores like CVS and Walmart.
The problem has been that they have lacked the oversight and enforcement necessary to ensure that the quality and potency of supplements sold on Amazon are as claimed on the label. Some might even say the saturation of fake NMN sellers (mostly on Amazon) have made it easier for the FDA to step in and rule that NMN must discontinue being sold as a dietary supplement.
Policy Changes Made In Response to A Lack of Confidence
In 2020, Amazon made an effort to become more serious in their enforcement policy by requiring three pieces of documentation in order to sell supplements on Amazon.com: a certificate of analysis (CoA) from an ISO/IEC 17025-accredited laboratory for each supplement; product images; and a letter of guarantee from the product manufacturer, including an assurance that the supplement is produced under FDA’s cGMPs incorporated in 21 CFR Part 111.
Since these changes were announced, however, testing by independent labs has shown that much remains the same, with potency often not as indicated on the labels. The was particularly true in sales of NMN supplements, as independent testing would show.
Independent Testing Shows Amazon Still Falling Short of Stated Goals
In October, 2021 Chromadex did a study on twenty-two NMN brands having the highest market share on Amazon and found that only 14% had NMN content at or above the claims on their label. A whopping 64% had less than 1% of the NMN it claimed on the label and 14% had ZERO NNM whatsoever. See Table 1 below.
In late 2020/early 2021, testing by ProHealth Longevity and Effepharm uncovered many fake NMN products sold on Amazon, many also having fake Certificates of Authenticity or other documentation. Consumer Lab and others were reporting the same findings.
Consumer Lab noted:
“Interestingly, many of the products found to contain virtually no NMN have hundreds or thousands of positive reviews on Amazon and some display images of certificates of analysis indicating that they provide their claimed amounts of NMN.” (2)
Research by ProHealth Longevity and Effepharm also disclosed that half of the NMN products tested contained zero NMN and that some products had less than 80 percent purity. There were even suppliers selling ordinary nicotinamide (which is nothing more than low-cost vitamin B3) as NMN.
Tests by NOW Foods Shows Problems with Supplement Quality/Purity are Systemic
A recent article on Natural Product Insider revealed that an internal testing program by Now Foods showed that the problem with lack of oversight and quality/potency issues were systemic in brands sold by Amazon.
Dan Richard, VP of global sales and marketing at NOW Foods stated:
“Vitamins should help people’s health and not do any harm” (5)
“We’ve seen low potencies, fraudulent labeling, high microbial contamination, high heavy metal levels, and beef gelatin capsules mislabeled as vegetarian capsules. Each of these is a problem.” (5)
NOW Foods began testing products sold on Amazon in 2017 after NOW noticed its position on Amazon declined while brands with little or no brand recognition were becoming popular due to suspiciously low pricing.
Since then, NOW Foods has independently bought and tested 175 supplement products from these lesser-known brands for quality and potency . Many of the findings have revealed significant quality issues, including low potency and products containing high levels of heavy metals or synthetic ingredients.
Inadequate Testing and Fake Certification Are Common Throughout the Industry
Unfortunately, many supplement companies mislead customers by testing the raw materials instead of the actual finished product, supplying deficient or fake certificates as proof. This means there is no assurance of what is in the bottle.
Third-party testing of the finished product is very important to establish that what is on the label is actually what’s inside the bottle, along with batch numbers stamped on the bottle for verification.
Renue By Science takes pride in pioneering industry-leading quality testing standards. All of their products are independently triple-lab tested for raw materials and strength and purity of the finished product. Batch and lot numbers are included for verification and we include this information on the bottle.
The 3-step quality certification includes:
- Acceptance testing – This ensures the raw ingredients are free from heavy metals, impurities, microbials and has > 99% purity.
- Product assurance testing – After production is complete, then random bottles are sent to a third-party laboratory for product assurance testing that verifies the finished product contains the quantities specified on the label.
Reasons to Have Avoided Buying NMN on Amazon
Now that Amazon has banned sales of NMN on its website, it may be a good opportunity for the free market to weed out many of these fraudulent sellers, many of whom only existed because of Amazon’s lax policies. The biggest reasons to have avoided buying NMN supplements on Amazon, according to results from these independent tests, were that that the quality and/or potency were often poor and that too many test results showed that labeling fell far short of the actual amount of NMN claimed.
Fake certificates of analysis were also highly prevalent, often with no way to contact the sellers, many of whom did not even own a website.