What's Wrong with
The Vitamin Shoppe?

The Vitamin Shoppe appears to be little more than a front for the fake-foods industry. If you think all their supplements are healthy, think again. Before you buy, read the labels!

Eric Armstrong

I went to the Vitamin Shoppe the other day to get a BCAA supplement. (BCAAs are "Branched Chain Amino Acids"--a supplement that gives your muscles the fuel and nutrients they need to grow, while signaling your brain to burn fat for energy, rather than muscle tissue.)

The brand I really like wasn't there, so I got the brand they had: Modern BCAA, by USPlabs.
That brand stated proudly:

Artificial colors
Artificial flavors


Of course, that bit about zero sugar should have been a tip-off. That's always code for "Danger! Artificial Sweetener". But all I saw was "Zero Artifical", and thought I was getting an all-natural product. (No doubt, that is what the label designers wanted me to think.) But I was dead wrong.

If you think all of supplements at the
Vitamin Shoppe are healthy, think again.

When I tried it, I noticed a bitter aftertaste. So I checked the label, where the ingredients listed sucralose. Sucralose? That's an artificial sugar! I checked the web. It took about 15 seconds to find that a) Sucralose (aka Splenda) is an artifical sugar, and b) It is very, very bad for you.

It turns out that Sucralose/Splenda is a "cholorcarbon"--a metabolic poison. One site went so far as to call it "unsafe for human consumption". See the Resources for more on that subject. Because the real reason for writing this article was the distinct lack of reaction by the proprietors of the shop I bought the supplement from.

To say they took it in stride would be an understatement. I gave a brief summary of the science, and copies of the articles I had found. But instead of the shock and outrage I expected, they displayed what could only be described as a nonchalance bordering on insouciance. To them, it seemed, it was all just "business as usual". They would be happy to exchange for anything in the store, but they didn't seem very concerned about it. And no way were they going to give my money back.

About a week later, I got to wondering if they had even been concerned enough to remove it from the shelves. So I went back to check. Sure enough, the shelves were full of it. That's when it hit me. I wasn't dealing with a small, locally owned health food store. I was dealing with a giant, national super-chain.

Not only do they fail to train their store managers,
they provide unhealthy products for them to stock.

An organization their size could have people on staff who know enough to avoid such ingredients. But either they don't care enough to hire them, or don't care what they have to say. Not only do they fail to teach their store managers enough to be knowledgeable, they provide unhealthy products for them to stock.

The only possible conclusion is that the Vitamin Shoppe's primary concern is not to provide healthy supplements. It seems, rather, that their only concern is to make money--to make it by cashing in on the health food craze, and sell anything they can in the process, regardless of what's in it.

I think there is a special level of hell reserved for manufacturers and retailers who knowingly make, distribute, and sell products that masquerade as being healthy, but which are as bad for you as they can possibly be. I hope there is. Because, to my mind, the people who run the Vitamin Shoppe fall into that category.


Copyright © 2011 by Eric Armstrong. All rights reserved.
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