DNE Vitamins Review

About 6 months ago, I posted reviews of popular supplement companies, but I thought I would post more expansive reviews in a series of posts over the next few months. Today, I want to review DNE Vitamins (aka D&E Vitamins) detail. This review is based on my experiences.

Overview

I have ordered from DNE 3-4 times over the last five years. Two of these orders have been fairly large, and in the last year. Some of the products I have ordered include their Time-Release Vitamin C 500 mg, and Bromelain 2000 GDU. I consider DNE one of my regular suppliers of vitamins.

Quality

According to their guarantee, they have quality controls set up to ensure potency and purity. However, I haven’t seen their products verified in independent lab tests, so I can’t speak of a more objective way to guarantee their products are what they claim. The bottles are well-sealed, and seem well-made. All the bottles have child-proof lids. I have only noticed a few minor quality issues. First, the Bromelain tabs are a little flaky. Second, in one case, the label on the bottle did not match what was listed online (or what was listed on the other bottles I got of the same product!). This was fish oil, and I only buy fish oil with a little Vitamin E present to prevent oxidation. A few of the bottles did not mention Vitamin E. I suspect they did contain the vitamin, but it wasn’t mentioned.

Product Selection

DNE has a pretty wide selection of supplements, including some sports supplements I wouldn’t ever take, but I suppose there is a market for that sort of thing (but how many caffiene supplements can one company actually carry??). They seem to get new products regularly, and carry  national brands to supplement lack of selection in their own brand, Nature’s Harbor. From my perspective, they could use higher dose Vitamin D. Right now, all they have is 400 IU strength. Considering many companies are now offering 5000 IU pills, offering only 400 IU seems out-of-date.

Value

DNE’s regular prices are competitive. However, they occasionally have sales, which provide even lower prices. They had a “buy one, get one” sale last December on their own brands, and a “50% off” sale just recently that covered every item. These sales make DNE’s prices incredibly low, and more competitive than most other companies online. For example, I recently ordered their Resveratrol product. The cost? With the recent 50% off sale, it ends up being $1.00/g. I was paying roughly $3.33/g from Puritan’s Pride. I also got free shipping! The sales are announced by regular e-mails I get from DNE. I highly suggest signing up.

Shipping

DNE has been a little weak in this area.  Shipping has sometimes been slow. I placed an order on June 17, and it didn’t ship until June 26 (they said they had just switched to “a new mail system,” because it was supposed to ship June 19). Even though the main DNE website lists various components of my order as “in stock,” they aren’t, which means almost half of my order is even further delayed. When I placed an order in December, I waited over a month for the final part of my order to get in-stock and ship. They now seem to send out emails when an order ships (and you can check online if the order is back-ordered or shipped). This is a new feature, and must be a component of their new mail system.

Service

Customer service has been excellent. I have called a few times, but I usually just chat online. The customer service representatives have been very nice, warm, and friendly. Mary and Joan do a great job!

Overall

DNE Vitamins is a great source of supplements, with very low prices, especially when they run their best sales. The quality seems good, but sometimes the number of back-ordered items can be frustrating.

50% Off at DNE Vitamins

I have ordered from DNE Vitamins since I sent for a free catalog back in the mid-1990s. Recently they have been having some great sales, and I have ordered from them more than ever. Their prices are naturally competitive with the warehouse and catalog discounters, so when they have an additional sale, the deals are GREAT.

Right now, until June 22, DNE is having a 50% off sale, on your entire order. This even includes their national brands. Enter the coupon GET50OFF at checkout. Shipping is free for all orders over $89!!

My Experience with “Brain” Supplements

I am into health and fitness and have been since I was a teenager. In fact, I have taken vitamins on and off from the time I was fourteen. As an overweight teenager, I basically took matters into my own hands and read about health and fitness issues, including nutritional supplements. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about supplements that help bring mental clarity. I already take Acetyl L-Carnitine, an amino acid, and have added DMAE and phosphatidylserine (aka PS). I have had great experiences with these supplements, but want to share my thoughts including both positive and negative aspects.

I started by taking 250 mg. of Acetyl L-Carnitine the evening that it came. I immediately noticed greater mental clarity, sharper vision, and a generally elevated mood. I was able to sit down and focus enough to finish grading some papers I had been putting off for awhile. I’m not ADD by any means, but I still can be distracted. In spite of the greater focus, my sleep was lighter that night and I was somewhat restless. I figured taking it in the morning would help eliminate this, so the next morning I took 250 mg. on an empty stomach. I noticed the same benefits previously, with a little bit of restlessness thrown in. I was cruising along throughout the morning, but had a pretty big “low” in the afternoon. It came right as one of my classes was starting! Bad timing, I guess. I also experienced light sleep that night too, but this could’ve been connected to congestion, which I suffered from that day.

The next day, I modified my routine again by taking 125 mg. in the morning and 125 mg. in the late afternoon (all on an empty stomach). I still had an afternoon low and slept lightly to boot. More bad timing, I think. But, curiously, my workout that day was incredible. I got on the “virtual bike” and instead of my usual average of 220-230 watts over a 30 minute period, I was able to do 260 watts over the same period. This resulted in an additional 80 or so calories burned!

The next day, I cut my dosage to 65 mg. before breakfast and another 65 mg. or so before lunch. This removed the low and kept me going through school and my after school workout. So far, so good. During the weekend, I cut my dosage to 65 mg. one time before lunch. Once again, I noticed a nice workout boost, going from an average of 168 or so strides/minute on the elliptical machine to 175 or so strides/minute. I’ve worked my way back to 250mg a day, usually before workouts. Occasionally I mix it up by taking DMAE or PS before workouts.

As it stands, I have had a great experience with Acetyl L-Carnitine, DMAE, and PS. I can’t say I saw any physical benefits, but the mental boost when working out is amazing. I work a long day as a teacher and couldn’t imagine not taking these supplements (not at the same time, btw) before working out.  Here is the summary of my experiences:

Positive: Sharper vision, better mental clarity and more focus, huge workout boost (even at lower doses)

Negative: Restlessness, lighter/less sleep (at higher doses), some nausea (even at lower doses, but went away with time)

Bottom Line for Me: After I started slowly on the dosage, I noticed incredible benefits without the annoying side effects.

These are my experiences only. If you are interested in taking this or any supplement consult a doctor.

Yet Another Good Supplement Company

Awhile back, I listed some supplement companies that I consider both inexpensive and high quality. I have found another that I will probably be ordering from in the future: Swanson. They seem to have a pretty wide selection, great prices, and a solid quality of guarantee.

Some Great Deals at Healthy America

I haven’t bought supplements from Healthy America for awhile, in part because in the last few years they haven’t run the great sales they ran back in 2006. This has changed this spring, as they have introduced some buy one, get one free deals, as well as giving 10 percent off orders over 60 dollars. Some of the items on sale include Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Co-Enzyme Q10, Garlic, and Saw Palmetto.

Puritan’s Pride Quietly Ditches Life’s Rewards

Last year, Puritan’s Pride implemented a program called “Life’s Rewards” which gave a percentage of every purchase back to the consumer in the form of rewards. They were pretty generous with their rewards actually! However, when the last catalog came out, Puritan’s Pride also raised their prices on every item, around 5% or more! I don’t know if this was done to offset the cost of the Life’s Rewards rebates or not, but the timing is suspicious.

Well, recently, there is no mention of Life’s Rewards on the Puritan’s Pride site, and they are now advertising their new, lower prices (which seem to be the lower, original, prices in most cases).

Puritan’s Pride told me they are re-evaluating the Life’s Rewards program. I can’t imagine a price increase during this economy was a good idea, even if it was to be returned as a reward rebate later.

This explains the mystery of what happened to the Life’s Rewards program! Puritan’s Pride is an excellent company, and I think that keeping the base prices lower, and re-tooling the Life’s Rewards program is probably a good idea.

A Review of Some Supplement Companies

While I do not believe that supplements make up for an unhealthy lifestyle, and that they should be used strategically and smartly, I do believe that they have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. Shopping for supplements can be confusing, and in some cases, prices are radically inflated from one company to the next. Below is a list of the supplement and vitamin companies I like, and order from. I am a very picky shopper, especially when buying supplements, because some companies sell ordinary ingredients at inflated prices simply because they give their products fancy names. Don’t be deceived. The companies’ prices listed below are reasonable, and they are generally reliable. I hope these reviews are helpful, and help you find cheap, high quality supplements.

Puritan’s Pride – This is by far my favorite company, with excellent prices, and high quality (as demonstrated by independent tests). Their selection is good, although sometimes they are slow to get specialty products. They have a “sale” site, Puritan Sale, with even better prices.

DNE Vitamins – I first learned about DNE in 1994, and I have ordered from them sporadically since then. They recently had a great sale on their own products (Nature’s Harbor). Their products seem to be of good quality, although I haven’t investigated if their products have been independently verified. They ship out pretty quickly, although I am still waiting on a back-ordered product. I am not a huge fan of some of their products (myriad caffeine pills, ephedrine, etc)

Healthy America – For awhile, I ordered supplements from Healthy America, but they stopped having great sales, and don’t have as many product choices as they once did. I have generally been satisfied with their products, although the quality of a few was low. For example, a B-Complex product (they no longer sell it) looked like it had soaked in water even when it was freshly opened. Their website seems to be rarely updated.

Vitamin Shoppe – I discovered Vitamin Shoppe probably about 4 years ago, and I like their prices on certain items, although they are kind of high on some things (like Omega-3). Since they have an online store, and have stores in many areas, ordering is convenient. They are also a partner with Citi Card, so I get a rebate when ordering using my Citi credit card (to get this you have to go through the Citi reward website).

Wonder Labs – I just discovered Wonder Labs a few weeks ago. I placed an order recently for some Christmas presents for my dad. I mainly discovered them because I was looking for a generic version of Wobenzym. Doctor’s Trust used to have a good generic version of Wobenzym called Movenzyme, but now that Puritan’s Pride owns Doctor’s Trust, they no longer have the product. Wonder Labs has a (kind of) equivalent product, called Proteolytic Digestive Enzymes, which is actually stronger per tablet than Wobenzym, although I don’t know if it is enteric coated like Wobenzym.

Vita Cost – I have known about this site for awhile, but just re-discovered them recently when looking for some brand name supplements for my dad. They have some great deals on brand names, but the best deals are their own brand, NSI (Nutraceutical Sciences Institute), which actually sounds pretty pricey. Their Co-Enzyme Q10 prices are great, and so are some others. They ship out the same day if you order early in the day!

Vita Glo – Of all the brand name supplement companies, I like NOW Foods the best, because they are quality supplements with reasonable prices. The best place I have found to get them is Vita Glo.

Saint John’s Wort as Effective as Prozac

This is an interesting article, that details the results of an analysis of many scientific studies:

Experts do not know exactly how the plant lifts depression, although most believe it probably works by keeping the chemical serotonin, which is linked to positive moods, in the brain for longer.

The study’s lead author, Dr Klaus Linde, from the Centre for Complementary Medicine in Munich, pooled data from 29 studies involving 5,489 patients with mild to moderately severe depression.

‘Overall, the St John’s Wort extracts tested in the trials were superior to placebo, similarly effective as standard anti-depressants, and had fewer side effects than standard anti-depressants,’ he said.

But he pointed out that St John’s Wort products available in health food shops and chemists differed greatly and some may be more effective than others.

‘Using a St John’s Wort extract might be justified but products on the market vary considerably, so these results only apply to the preparations tested,’ he explained.

The findings were published by the Cochrane Library, which specialises in systematic reviews of research studies…

The studies I have seen on Saint John’s Wort are mixed. Some say it is effective, others say it is not. It seems to be effective for mild depression (exercising and getting fresh air seem to be as well). Either way, it is nice to know there is a safer, cheaper, alternative to prescription anti-depressants (although I would not go off one without working with a doctor!; It is also not wise to self-treat depression).

Change #17: Supplements

I’ve been into vitamins and other supplements for years, but I had fallen into a habit of taking them only occasionally, which given my poor diet (I literally ate sausage pasta for dinner every night for several months), meant that I was probably not reaching optimal levels of certain nutrients if not outright deficient! That changed on August 6th when I decided to get serious about my health. Other than purposefully taken “vitamin holidays” I’ve always taken my supplements. And, I’ve noticed differences in my general health too. For example, in spite of vigorous workouts 6-7 days a week, I never have experienced joint pain. I attribute that to taking Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM. If I need a little mental boost, especially before workouts, I take an Acetyl L-Carnitine. I take Green Tea to help my metabolism too. I take many other supplements, all of which supply something that I need. I would recommend researching supplements very carefully and then making a decision about which ones to take with your doctor. For a good summary of supplements, including current studies and balanced conclusions, please visit the website of Dr. Ray Sahelian.

Magnesium: August 2008 Nutrient of the Month

Magnesium is usually viewed as an accessory nutrient that tags along with Calcium in bone-building supplements, but in reality, Magnesium is important in its own right, probably even more important than Calcium. And we should be discussing Magnesium more often than we are: hospital studies suggest that Magnesium deficiency is pretty common.

Magnesium has been associated with a lower risk of developing cancer. In one study, women with the highest Magnesium intake were 40 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than the women with the lowest Magnesium intake. In a study in rodents, rats were exposed to a carcinogen, which caused cancer in 100% of the  rats receiving no treatment. However, only 46% of the rats receiving Magnesium developed cancer, despite being exposed to the same carcinogen. Amazingly, a combination of Vitamin C, Selenium, Vitamin A, and Magnesium reduced the cancer development rate to 12% (quoted in Cancer Therapy by Ralph Moss)!

Magnesium also seems to prevent, and even treat, heart disease. Among other things, it protects those with heart disease from the effects of exercise. Some researchers think, as a nation, we could cut our heart disease rate in half if we took more Magnesium!

Magnesium, at least in IV form, seems to be able to prevent and even treat migraines. Oral Magnesium may benefit as well, but unfortunately (see below) common Magnesium supplements are not well-absorbed. While an anecdotal example, Jennifer had fairly frequent migraines when we met. Immediately, I recommended Magnesium and a diet high in Magnesium-rich foods. Since that time, she has only had one migraine. Obviously, this is anecdotal, but we make sure we both get plenty of Magnesium.

Unfortunately, the cheapest and most popular supplemental form of Magnesium, Magnesium Oxide, is not well-absorbed. Only around 4% of it seems to be absorbed, which means that of a standard 400 mg supplement (the RDA), only 16 mg is absorbed. More absorbable forms seem to be Magnesium Gluconate, Magnesium Citrate, and Magnesium Aspartate, all available from Puritan’s Pride for a reasonable price.

Even though the  RDA is 400 mg, some researchers recommend a little more. Foods particularly high in Magnesium are peanuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and sunflower seeds.

Image of honey-roasted peanuts, rich in Magnesium, taken by me