BulkSupplements Review: Failed Quality Tests and Great Prices

BulkSupplements Review: Failed Quality Tests and Great Prices


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Many consumers consider BulkSupplements.com to be the go-to brand for cheap supplements. BulkSupplements offers products in enormous quantities (do people really buy turmeric extract 11 pounds at a time?), and often at industry-leading prices.

But are BulkSupplements' products well-formulated? What made the brand fail some potency tests published by ConsumerLab? What made the brand fail a label accuracy test published by ConsumerLab? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of BulkSupplements?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we highlight four cases where BulkSupplements failed independent testing, and document what percentage of BulkSupplements products have passed ConsumerLab testing.

We'll also feature unsponsored reviews from BulkSupplements customers, and provide a cost comparison to show which retailer sells BulkSupplements for the best price.

Failed Quality Test #1  Ginkgo Biloba

BulkSupplements Ginkgo Biloba Extract ConsumerLab test results

ConsumerLab is an independent testing laboratory that we consider to be the best supplement testing resource in the US, as we documented in our Consumer Lab reviews article.

ConsumerLab has tested a variety of BulkSupplements products, including ginkgo biloba extract, as shown in the image above. All of our product testing images in this article are sourced from ConsumerLab.

BulkSupplements’ ginkgo biloba extract powder was assigned a “Not Approved” rating by ConsumerLab.

The testing revealed that BulkSupplements' ginkgo was only 3% as potent as advertised. ConsumerLab reported only 0.98 milligrams (mg) of flavonol glycosides per 175 mg serving.

We recommend a flavone glycoside concentration of 15% or greater for ginkgo biloba extract products, as this is the minimum dosage in most of the medical studies we've reviewed on the plant. The flavone glycoside concentration in BulkSupplements ginkgo was 0.6% based on ConsumerLab results.

Failed Quality Test #2  Ginger

BulkSupplements Ginger ConsumerLab test results

BulkSupplements ginger also failed independent testing.

The brand claims that the product contains 500 mg of ginger root extract per serving, but ConsumerLab found only 1 mg of gingerols.

Gingerols are one of the main phytonutrients in ginger, so this again suggests that a BulkSupplements product is substantially underdosed.

ConsumerLab suggests in their review that this product may have been exposed to excessive heat, because it contained an "unusually dark color" and "musty aroma."

We would recommend avoiding this product. 

Failed Quality Test #3  Holy Basil

BulkSupplements Holy Basil ConsumerLab test results

The test results for BulkSupplements' Holy Basil supplement are even more concerning than the two products reviewed previously.

Not only does this product appear to be underdosed based on ConsumerLab testing, but it also has relatively high levels of toxic heavy metals.

ConsumerLab found less than 50% of the expected value of triterpenes, which is a phytonutrient in holy basil. This suggests that the product is diluted or otherwise underdosed.

Additionally, ConsumerLab reported a lead level of around 2 micrograms (mcg) per gram serving. Lead is a toxic heavy metal, and its intake should be reduced as much as possible.

Failed Labeling — Potassium

BulkSupplements ConsumerLab potassium test results

The ConsumerLab review of BulkSupplements Potassium Chloride reported the opposite issue of the three herbal supplements reviewed in previous sections: this product had a much higher dose than was listed. 

ConsumerLab tests revealed that there was 2.57x more potassium chloride per teaspoon than the label claim.

This is an egregious and totally unacceptable error given that potassium metabolism is directly involved in electrical signaling of the heart. 

This isn’t a minor mistake like a lower-than-expected concentration of a standardized extract; this is an error that could potentially harm a consumer’s health.

Did Any Products Pass Independent Testing?

At the time of updating this article, ConsumerLab has tested 15 different products sold by BulkSupplements.

10 of the 15 BulkSupplements products passed ConsumerLab testing, for a pass rate of 67%.

This ratio has improved since we initially published this article, but it still is concerning in our opinion. As one of the authors of this article (Calloway), I wouldn't want to purchase a supplement if I felt like I had a one in three chance that it would fail ConsumerLab testing.

We would recommend avoiding the brand entirely based on this data.

Real People Try BulkSupplements

A TikTok creator and fitness influencer named Tony explains why he uses BulkSupplements' creatine powder:

@trainbloom No, I’m not getting paid to say this. I’m just a tired of getting 10+ DMs per day asking what creatine you should get. (Love you, mean it😚) Pure creatine monohydrate. It’s clean. It’s cheap. It’s literally the only thing you need when looking for a creatine supplement. (And don’t ask me if “x, y, or z form of creatine is better than monohydrate” - It’s not. No matter what the influencer told you while selling it.) #creatine #supplement #supplements #creatinemonohydrate #supplementsthatwork ♬ original sound - Tony ☕️

 A TikTok creator named Alex Thieme claims to have had a good experience using BulkSupplements caffeine pills as a pre-workout:

@alexthiemefitness Reply to @lowkeypg ♬ original sound - Alex Thieme

Improved Formulations

To the credit of BulkSupplements, the brand seems to be improving their formulations (perhaps due to the popularity of this article).

When we initially published this article, we highlighted two formulations that concerned us.

One was a product with a title of Ginkgo Biloba Extract, but we documented that the Supplement Facts label at the time showed ginkgo biloba powder, which is much less potent.

This ingredient discrepancy no longer exists on BulkSupplements.com. The Supplement Facts label for their Ginkgo Biloba Extract product now shows ginkgo biloba extract.

The second was a Cassia cinnamon extract, which is the type of cinnamon which is the highest in a toxin called coumarin, as we documented in our ceylon vs saigon cinnamon comparison article.

We mentioned at the time that switching this for Ceylon cinnamon would be an improvement from a health perspective, because Ceylon is much lower in coumarin, and the brand has since made that change.

We commend BulkSupplements.com for making these improvements to their formulations.

Where to Buy BulkSupplements for the Best Price

BulkSupplements products are sold at a variety of online retailers. Here's a price breakdown for a one-time purchase of two of their most popular products, at the time of updating this article:

Creatine (2.2 pound bag)

Brand website: $35.96 (plus shipping, link)

Walmart: $35.96 (free shipping, link to official Walmart listing)

Amazon: $35.96 (free shipping, link to official Amazon listing)

L-Citrulline Malate 2:1 (1 pound bag)

Brand website: $24.96 (plus shipping, link)

Walmart: $24.96 (free shipping, link to official Walmart listing)

Amazon: $24.96 (free shipping, link to official Amazon listing)

Prices of BulkSupplements products are around 20-30% cheaper on Amazon and Walmart for a one-time purchase than at the brand's website, when the purchase price is less than the $59 order requirement for free shipping through the brand's website.

Pros and Cons of BulkSupplements

Here are the pros and cons of BulkSupplements in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Brand seems to be improving formulations
  • Brand seems to be improving product quality, based on ConsumerLab testing data
  • Many positive online customer reviews

Cons:

  • Brand failed independent testing for 5 out of 15 products on ConsumerLab
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Overall, we consider BulkSupplements to be a below-average supplement brand. 

Their products are very affordable, but this brand has the most ConsumerLab quality test failures that we've noted in any Illuminate Health review to date.

In this article, we documented how ConsumerLab reported that the ginger, ginkgo biloba and holy basil supplements sold by BulkSupplements failed potency testing.

We also documented how ConsumerLab reported that a potassium supplement sold by BulkSupplements was found to have a much higher dose than advertised, which may pose consumer safety risks given that potassium is involved in heart function.

To the credit of BulkSupplements, the brand seems to be improving both their formulations and their internal quality testing since we initially published this article, because the percentage of passed ConsumerLab tests has since increased, and the company has alleviated both of the formulation issues that we noted in our initial review.

Amazon and Walmart currently have significantly better prices on orders under $59 than the brand's website, when factoring in shipping fees.