Amazon’s Fake/Counterfeit Supplement Problem

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Key Takeaways:

Amazon’s third-party seller system is ripe for listing pirates to fool you into buying inferior, counterfeit products.


Amazon’s third-party seller platform has many loopholes for bad actors to sell fake products.

Amazon has inherent protections that shield it from being held liable for problems with products sold on its site.

The benefit of buying from a brand directly is that many times they have quality assurance measures listed on their site.

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Amazon’s Fake/Counterfeit Supplement Problem

Amazon is one of the great inventions of our time.

It’s right up there with the wheel, the car, Playstation, and ice cream.

Amazon Prime has completely revolutionized how consumers interface with retailers.

One-click checkout, same-day delivery, wish lists, product variety, and reviews are just some of the great things that Amazon has created to make the process of obtaining goods a pain-free experience.

That being said, it’s the last place I go for nutritional supplements.

As revolutionary as the Amazon marketplace is for everyday items like headphones and books, it’s the worst place to find high-quality supplements.

That’s because the third-party seller system is ripe for listing pirates to fool you into buying inferior, counterfeit products.

Food supplements, healthy diet

Does Amazon Sell Fake Supplements

Short answer: No, and yes.

Amazon doesn’t actually sell supplements.  They are a marketplace for 3rd party sellers to sell products.

Independent brands create listings and sell their products while Amazon provides the shop for them to do so.

While Amazon provides a state-of-the-art, modern online marketplace for sellers to make a lot of sales, the platform has many loopholes.

These loopholes allow anyone to copy brand logos and sell counterfeit items either independently or even under the original brand’s listing.

In fact, many brands purposely choose not to sell on Amazon because of the extra costs and complications that come with selling on Amazon.

However, their products are being sold on Amazon illegally.

2 high-quality brands I know of personally that don’t sell on Amazon have counterfeit products currently being sold on Amazon.

One of which is Mind Lab Pro, whose CEO has personally told me they do not sell on Amazon.  Yet, you can find Mind Lab Pro supplements on Amazon.

Real-Life Example

In 2019 Amazon sent an email to anyone who purchased probiotics made by Align, a Procter & Gamble brand, that their products may be counterfeit and stop taking them immediately.

The email reads, “If you still have this product, we recommend that you stop using it immediately and dispose of the item.”

Many customers did receive a small refund, but the damage was already done.

This high-profile example is a small sample of “business as usual” for most Amazon products.

While there are safety measures and programs to protect retailers from counterfeiters, there is a lot of sophisticated software used by unscrupulous sellers to get around these measures and make money off the backs of actual reputable brands.

How To Avoid Counterfeit Items On Amazon

The easiest way to avoid counterfeit items on Amazon is just not to buy products from Amazon.

Most brands have their own online e-commerce stores where they sell their authentic products.

In fact, many brands that do sell on Amazon offer better deals from their e-commerce stores for lower prices than their Amazon listing.

You also have the opportunity to interact directly with the brand.

This allows you to subscribe to newsletters where brands can update you on new products, deals, and education to improve your user experience.

Is Amazon Safe For Buying supplements

It’s also important to remember that the supplement industry, in general, is still very much the wild west.

It’s a $40 billion industry with loose regulations and sellers cutting corners to increase profits.

This includes incomplete testing on the finished products and individual ingredients.

The benefit of buying from a brand directly is that they often have quality assurance measures listed on their site.

Or at least contact info to inquire directly about quality-related questions.

Buying directly from a brand gives you peace of mind knowing that you’re at least getting what you pay for.

Many brands also try to compete with Amazon on shipping offering 1-2 day delivery and free shipping.

Why Quality Matters

The problem with counterfeit products is they are manufactured with little safety compliance.

Many products are made in factories with low manufacturing standards in China, India, and even in the U.S.

These products end up containing fillers, excipients, toxic chemicals, and heavy metals.

If you take supplements for a serious health condition, which many nootropic users are, avoiding these additives is crucial.

Even slight exposure to the wrong chemical can set off an inflammatory response or sensitivity that compromises your health.

Not to mention, many of these counterfeit products don’t even contain the nutrient they claim to be.1Loren Israelsen and Frank Lampe. Three Myths About Dietary Supplements … and How Knowing the Right Answers Is Good for Your Integrative Medicine Practice Integr Med (Encinitas). 2016

Why Does Amazon Allow Fake Products

Amazon has inherent protections that shield it from being held liable for problems with products sold on its site.

This is possible through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

This means that if someone sells a supplement on Amazon, calls the supplement a probiotic, and says it does probiotic things; Amazon can’t be held liable if the product is a dud.

To be fair, Amazon has many rules on the seller side to cut down on illegal activity.

But the sheer amount of transactions, sellers, and buyers on the platform makes it almost impossible to police fully.


There’s no doubt that Amazon is a powerhouse in the retail space.

However, when it comes to nutritional supplements, there is a lot to be desired.

The revolutionary seller platform opens the door for bad actors to sell fake products under reputable companies’ guises.

This compromises quality assurance, which is of the utmost importance when it comes to using products to improve your health.

Rather, opt to get products straight from the brand themselves and live with that assurance that you’re at least getting the thing you are paying for.

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Erik Abramowitz is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), Naturopathic Doctoral student, health coach, and father. He is the primary content creator for and the host of the Holistic Nootropics Podcast.

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