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Umzu Review: Overpriced and Poorly Formulated Supplements


Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD

Illuminate Labs Umzu Review article header Image

Umzu is an increasingly popular supplement brand with great marketing. Their promotional materials are clean and effective, but their supplements are likely to be less so.

In this article we’ll review the formulations of Umzu Redwood and Umzu Testro X. We'll also review their diet protocol "Thermo Diet." We'll conclude why we believe Umzu is generally overpriced and poorly formulated.

Proprietary Formulations

Most of Umzu’s products, especially their best sellers, are proprietary formulations. This means the company creates a unique blend of compounds rather than selling a single vitamin or herb. 

If you’ve read our Neuriva review, you’ll know what we think about proprietary formulations: if the supplement company hasn’t funded clinical trials of their unique blend, there is no proof it works. Mixing together different individual compounds that may be effective for various health goals doesn’t necessarily translate to an effective blended product.

Umzu has not funded any clinical trials and does not publish any proof that their products are effective.

Lack of Published Testing

It’s important for supplement companies to publish test results proving that their products are low in heavy metals and accurately labeled. This is not required in the U.S., but without this information supplement consumers have no way to ascertain whether the products they’re taking are safe or harmful. 

In 2020, 800 different supplement brands were forced to recall their products by the FDA over quality control issues.

Umzu doesn’t publish any test results of their products, so consumers have no idea what they’re truly getting. In comparison, we publish test results from an independent laboratory for every single finished product batch we manufacture, because we take consumer health seriously.

Umzu Redwood Review

Umzu Redwood Supplement Facts panel

Umzu Redwood is one of their best selling products, with a stated benefit of “boosting your production of nitric oxide.” 

One of the active ingredients is horse chestnut, which, while used traditionally for circulatory benefit, isn’t primarily a nitric oxide precursor to our knowledge. There are a few medical studies mentioning secondary benefits of nitric oxide increases with horse chestnut intake, but we haven’t come across any at as low a dosage as in Umzu Redwood.

The “Learn More” button under their horse chestnut extract section, at the time we’re writing this, just reloads the same page so we don’t believe they have any proof that horse chestnut at 250 mg is effective for increasing nitric oxide levels.

Umzu Redwood also contains 300 mg garlic, which is effective at lowering blood pressure and increasing nitric oxide synthesis, but is underdosed in their product. The effective dose of garlic for circulatory benefit seems to be minimum 600 mg, and ideally over 1 g, based on medical research.

If you’re looking for garlic products actually backed by science, a brand called Kyolic manufactures aged garlic extract products and funds clinical trials proving they work.

Another underdosed ingredient in this product is a compound called casein hydrolysate. There is some early stage research suggesting it’s beneficial for cardiovascular health, but the doses used in medical studies are significantly higher than that in Umzu Redwood. Their own site links out to two research papers on casein hydrolysate with doses 8 or more times higher than the 12 mg in Redwood. It’s like they just searched for random studies including this ingredient without even bothering to check dosage.

Overall, if you’re looking for a potent nitric oxide precursor which is much more established in medical literature and factors cheaper than Umzu Redwood, consider taking l citrulline at 8 to 10 g daily. The cost of Redwood is $40 for only 30 servings, and you can get bulk citrulline powder for less than $0.5 per 9 g serving.

Umzu Testro X Review

Umzu Testro X Supplement Facts panel

Umzu Testro X is another of their popular products, which claims to aid in “boosting your body’s ability to produce testosterone.”

The formulation contains two minerals with a daily value (DV): zinc and magnesium. Both can support healthy testosterone function, but we haven’t seen any evidence suggesting either mineral improves testosterone levels in healthy adults who aren’t deficient in the minerals. 

Minerals shouldn’t be randomly supplemented but instead taken to solve deficiencies found through testing. Someone already replete in zinc would gain no benefit, and potentially cause harm, by taking 136% DV of zinc in a supplement.

Testro X contains five ingredients which make no sense to use at all for a testosterone supplement: l-leucine, l-theanine, inositol, glycine and black pepper fruit extract. None of these compounds are used (or even tested, based on our research) for testosterone improvement.

In their ingredient breakdown, Umzu describes l-theanine as “relaxing” and inositol as a “small molecule structurally similar to glucose that is involved in cellular signaling.” I guess when there’s no research even suggesting inclusion of a compound into a proprietary formula you just post random information instead of proof it works.

The three remaining ingredients (ashwagandha, coleus forskohlii, boron) have been tested in preliminary studies for testosterone improvement with minor benefits, and are adequately dosed in our opinion. Since boron is a mineral we’d recommend a blood test prior to supplementing.

Testro X costs $54.95 for a one-time purchase, which is significantly overpriced in our opinion, given that there are no clinical trials proving this mineral and herb blend actually raises testosterone. It’s nearly $2/serving for no guaranteed results.

Thermo Diet Review

Umzu has a ridiculous and unscien​​tific diet recommendation page called the “Thermo Diet”. It claims to “improve energy flow throughout your body”. 

The diet protocol has random inclusions and exclusions. You can eat potatoes but not peanuts. You can eat eggs but not mint tea.

It’s unfortunate that supplement and pharmaceutical companies still overcomplicate diet recommendations with totally unscientific protocols. Eating foods (ideally whole unprocessed foods) at a caloric deficit is the only way to consistently lose weight. Avoiding mint tea, because Umzu said to, won’t help.

As we described in our critical Plenity weight loss supplement review, one medically proven way to make dieting easier is to increase dietary insoluble fiber, because it increases the sense of fullness. Eating a large salad will make you feel more full than eating the equivalent calories in fries, because of the fiber difference. This sort of approach would be better than randomly excluding foods based on the “Thermo Diet”.

Conclusion

Umzu isn’t the worst supplement company we’ve reviewed (that award still belongs to BulkSupplements and all of their failed testing), but most of their formulations include underdosed ingredients based on medical research. At least some of the ingredients in Umzu products support the health claims made on their site.

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