MLM Supplements: Why I’m not a Fan
MLM supplements are a big thing now. Dozens of MLM companies are churning them out alongside their beauty products and essential oils. They come with loads of promises about what they can do for you, their purity, how they were tested. But are they worth it?
As a rule, I suggest my clients avoid MLM supplements. Ultimately, everyone can choose what they do and do not ingest. But for me, the risks involved here are just not worth it.
Minimal Regulation of the Supplement Industry
Here in the US, there isn’t much regulation of the supplement industry. This means that the FDA does not require supplement products be tested before hitting the market. Instead, it’s not until an issue arises that the FDA investigates. Because of this, there are supplements for sale that: a.) are more or less potent than they claim to be; b.) are adulterated with substances not listed on the label, or c.) bear inaccurate labels. Additionally, supplement companies cannot make unsubstantiated claims about the effects of their products. However, that does not stop numerous MLM distributors from doing so. In fact, from April to June of 2020 alone the FDA sent warning letters to 16 different MLM companies for their distributors making false claims about their products’ ability to protect against Covid-19. As I stated before, these issues aren’t reeled in until the FDA receives complaints.
Many folks fail to recognize that dietary supplements are not totally innocuous. Several vitamins and minerals run the risk of toxicity when taken in excess. Additionally, some supplements can interact with prescription drugs. For these reasons, I recommend that my clients work with their physician and avoid independently starting a supplement routine.
MLM Company Structure
MLMs or Multi-Level Marketing Companies have a structure that differs from other business models. Just below corporate are the top sellers in the company. These are the lucky ones who got in early and have developed extensive downlines – or a network of sellers beneath them. Each of those sellers has their own downline and so on and so forth. Those at the top make money from the work of all the sellers beneath them.
Sellers can make money selling the product, However, it’s not very much and most MLMs require sellers to make their own monthly minimum purchase. Where the money is truly made is in recruiting more sellers to your downline. There is typically a significant recruitment bonus to be had plus the commission of the starter kits the new sellers must purchase to join. To make any significant money in an MLM, a seller must have developed a large downline with several levels of sellers.
Thus, in an MLM structure, the money is made from recruiting more sellers, not from selling products. Therefore, an MLM company has very little reason to invest in creating quality products. As MLM reps are told, it’s about selling the “opportunity.”
Do I feel OK about buying a product with little to no regulation from a company with little to no incentive to make a quality product from someone with little or no training in nutrition? No. Not at all.
MLM Supplements from Untrained Sellers
The vast majority of MLM sellers possess no training in nutrition and, yet, they sell nutrition products. So who do you go to when you have a bad reaction to that product? Who do you go to when you have questions about it? Exactly. You can’t ask the seller. And corporate certainly won’t respond. And doctors can’t be knowledgeable about every product on the market.
For these reasons, when it comes to MLM supplements, I advise avoiding them. I also recommend speaking to a physician before supplementing. Finally, I recommend consulting independent resources such as www.labdoor.com or www.consumerlab.com to choose a reputable product.