NOW Amazon testing programme found products with missing ingredients and misleading/inaccurate labelling

Published: 7-Dec-2022

NOW has continued its testing of supplements from lesser-known brands purchased on Amazon, with this round focusing on the popular mineral magnesium glycinate

Once again, the results showed misleading and inaccurate labelling ... and many of the products did not contain the claimed material, material form or amounts.

NOW discovered that almost all other brands tested failed to include the chelated magnesium form, as claimed on the label. Magnesium chelates, such as magnesium bisglycinate or glycinate, have excellent water solubility and lack a laxative effect.  

The fully reacted chelates are better absorbed and more expensive than other forms and thus are at risk for substitution with lower quality material, such as magnesium oxide and magnesium carbonate, simply blended with glycine. 

Various magnesium glycinate products, including two manufactured by NOW, were purchased on Amazon and subjected to testing at two well-respected testing facilities: NOW’s in-house lab and Eurofins contract laboratory.  

First, total magnesium content was determined by analysing the samples using Inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES).  

To determine the levels of water-soluble magnesium glycinate, the same ICP-OES technology was used, but instead of acid digestion, a gentle water extraction was applied to all samples.

Twelve out of 16 tested products met the label claim when tested for total magnesium content. However, only NOW products met the label claim when they looked at the soluble (chelated) form of magnesium, suggesting that other brands use non-soluble forms of magnesium in place of the more expensive chelated form.

Glycine was also detected in all samples, although the soluble magnesium results clearly suggest that glycine was not (or not entirely) bound with magnesium.  

“Unfortunately, it is known in the industry that many brands either knowingly or unknowingly simply blend glycine with magnesium oxide or carbonate and then label the product as magnesium mlycinate,” said Dan Richard, NOW’s Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing.  

“The difference is that the improperly labeled product is much lower cost and is not a fully reacted or bonded chelate.”  

Additionally, it seems some brands mislabel intentionally to get higher label potency claims. Deal Supplement brand claims 750 mg of magnesium glycinate per capsule, whereas legal labelling should list the elemental dose of magnesium and not the total weight of a RDI ingredient.  

Other brands that mislabel in this same way include Innate Vitality, Naturebell, Terranics and ZYY Nutrition.  

Most brands label magnesium glycinate properly, such as below:

Magnesium (as Bisglycinate)…..125 mg  or Magnesium (from Glycinate)…..125 mg


Magnesium 200 mg (from 2, 000mg Magnesium Bisglycinate) as NOW does for full disclosure of total and elemental mineral weights.

NOW intentionally did not test most brands that claimed to use Albion Minerals, which are known to be high quality and specialists in fully reacted magnesium glycinate.

Magnesium bisglycinate chelate powder from Albion Minerals/Balchem contains 10% elemental magnesium. This is why it takes 2000 mg of magnesium bisglycinate powder to yield 200 mg of elemental magnesium in NOW brands.  

Some brands such as Toniiq claim that their magnesium glycinate is 20% elemental, but this can only be achieved by using magnesium and glycine that is not fully reacted/bonded together.  

NaturaLife appears to be labelled properly with 18% elemental magnesium potency with Albion as the source, but this also is a blend — “buffered” — to reach the higher potency claim.  

So NaturaLife is accurate because they include “Magnesium Oxide” in the side panel of ingredients, but also deceptive as the front panel only lists magnesium glycinate.  

Horbaach brand seems to accurately label their side panel as: Magnesium 240 mg (from 1330 mg Magnesium Glycinate Chelate – Magnesium Bisglycinate Chelate, Magnesium Oxide).

But this is also deceptive as the front panel claims 1330 mg per serving and the side panel states that magnesium is only 240 mg.  

This form of magnesium glycinate contains a blend with magnesium oxide and claims to be made “with chelated minerals” ... but not 100% chelate.  

“It’s disheartening to see consumers misled and cheated when they buy products on Amazon over and over again,” Dan said.

“This should matter to everyone in our industry; consumers may grow to distrust the entire supplements industry when not getting the benefits they expected and deserved. And companies that work hard to do things right are losing sales to these bad actors.”


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