Labdoor is an online resource that publishes rankings of dietary supplements and food products. The brand claims that their website can help users "Shop Smart" and determine "what's really in your supplements."
But are Labdoor's test results and rankings accurate? What is Labdoor actually testing? Are their tests up-to-date? And how does Labdoor compare to other supplement testing sites like ConsumerLab?
In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we review Labdoor's methodology, share our concerns about their scoring process and compare Labdoor to ConsumerLab to give our take on which platform is a better option for supplement test results.
We'll also review Labdoor's certification program and explain why the brand's failure to publish testing dates for many of their test results is a problem.
Confusing Scoring Process
Labdoor's scoring system has five categories: Label Accuracy, Product Purity, Nutritional Value, Ingredient Safety, and Projected Efficacy.
The brand's methodology for this scoring system, while described on their website, is not transparent in terms of weighting.
As an example, a ginseng supplement called Auragin received a Labdoor score of 61.3 out of 100.
There is no "Projected Efficacy" or "Ingredient Safety" or "Nutritional Value" listed on the test results page.
The only data showing on the results page for this supplement is the ginsenoside level (which would be categorized under "Label Accuracy," and the pesticide and heavy metals level (which would be categorized under "Product Purity").
As a reader, you're left entirely unclear how the brand reached the 61.3/100 rating and why the three sections listed above, which are supposed to be a part of Labdoor's "Scoring Process," are not included.
Questionable Testing Methodology
There are several elements of Labdoor's testing methodology that are confusing to us.
First, the brand does not appear to publish the raw data of the test results anywhere on their website. If the brand has this information, why not publish it?
Our main issue is that Labdoor deducts points when supplements contain slightly more than the stated dose, which is a common practice.
Labdoor's review of One a Day Men's VitaCraves multivitamin, shown below, has a “Label Accuracy” score of 32 out of 100, which as a consumer sounds alarming.
It sounds as though the product doesn’t have what it claims on the Supplement Facts label. But based on Labdoor's own data, the multivitamin does contain the listed vitamins in slight excess of the label claim:
All of the vitamins in this supplement were found to be included at or above the label claim, yet Labdoor scores it a 32/100 for Label Accuracy.
Labdoor apparently deducts points for companies with slight overages in nutrient levels, even though a manufacturing overage is actually a supplement manufacturing best practice to ensure that the label claim is satisfactorily met.
This means that if a supplement company is manufacturing a product with 1,000 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, they may actually manufacture 1,100 mg of vitamin C to ensure that even if some is lost during the physical manufacturing process, or degrades over time, the supplement still contains the listed amount up to the point of expiration.
And while slight ingredient overages for vitamins (especially water-soluble vitamins like B-vitamins) are standard practice, large discrepancies in mineral content of supplements is a consumer safety issue.
But Labdoor gives high rankings to supplement companies even when their supplement contains a concerningly higher dose than the label claim.
The Labdoor test results and score for a magnesium brand called Natural Calm are shown below:
How does this supplement get a score of 87.1 when the magnesium content was found to be 263% higher than the brand claims?
This a consumer safety issue. Magnesium regulates electrical conduction in the heart and helps regulate blood pressure, and as documented in a 2022 medical review, excess magnesium can cause "serious health issues" to patients.
We are not suggesting that the dose of magnesium found in this supplement is high enough to cause health issues. We're simply providing research backing for why we think it's highly unscientific for Labdoor to give a mineral supplement such a high score when their own testing shows that its label accuracy is significantly off.
Failure to Publish Testing Dates
Labdoor appears to have removed all of the testing dates from companies that haven't participated in Labdoor's certification program.
This makes all of the data useless in our opinion. Without updated testing dates, consumers have no way to know if they're looking at test results from a batch that was produced five years ago. Product test results are only useful if the consumer can ensure that they're test results of the same batch of product the company is currently selling.
Supplement companies regularly manufacture new batches of product, and each batch is subject to unique risks and quality control changes.
A supplement company may sell one batch of a supplement with lead levels three times higher than the previous batch of the same supplement, due to increased contamination of the raw materials.
We recommend that consumers disregard any food or supplement test data that is not dated with a lot number.
Who's Behind Labdoor?
Labdoor’s About Us page doesn’t mention a single member of the company. In our opinion, this is somewhat of a red flag because testing dietary supplements for label accuracy and contaminants is a technically complex process that requires highly specific knowledge and education.
We prefer to use health and medical services run by brands with a transparently-published team of credentialed medical experts, as this seems to reduce the risk of methodological errors (such as some of the ones cited in the previous sections).
A California Secretary of State Corporations search reveals that the President of Labdoor is named Neil Thanedar. His website describes how he holds a Bachelor's Degree in cellular and molecular biology, and how he co-founded a product development and testing laboratory that was later acquired.
It's a good thing that Labdoor's founder has some relevant educational and entrepreneurial experience, but we would hope that there are people on the Labdoor team with more advanced degrees like PhD and MD, and if Labdoor has such experts they should publish this information (like we do), so that users can know that the people creating the rankings are qualified to do so.
Is Labdoor's Certification Program Legit?
Labdoor has a certification program that allows supplement brands to opt-in to product testing.
The data quality and transparency is vastly higher for Labdoor's certified products than for products not certified with Labdoor.
For certified brands, Labdoor publishes the full test results, including lot number and testing dates. We believe this is useful information for consumers.
Our guess is that regular testing of non-certified supplements is too expensive for Labdoor to regularly maintain, but because brands pay Labdoor for certification, a higher level of data quality and transparency is attainable for certified products.
The testing methodologies for the purity and label accuracy analyses are not published on the test results page for Labdoor's certified supplements, which is underwhelming, but we still think this aspect of Labdoor's business is a net positive for consumers.
Labdoor vs. ConsumerLab
ConsumerLab is another supplement testing site, so consumers are often curious about which is a better option.
We would recommend ConsumerLab over Labdoor for several reasons:
1) ConsumerLab is run by publicly-listed scientists
The brand has a Team page with multiple PhDs and doctors running their operations.
2) ConsumerLab publishes testing methodology
3) We have never noted scientific discrepancies or questionable practices related to testing on the ConsumerLab website.
We believe that ConsumerLab's product testing data is higher quality and more useful to consumers than Labdoor. That being said, ConsumerLab does charge a fee (currently $95 for two years of access).
For consumers on a budget, Labdoor's certification program is worth checking as it's a free resource and we believe the data quality of Labdoor's certification program and ConsumerLab's regular product testing is comparable.