One of the popular practitioner brands of dietary supplements is called Designs for Health, which most consumers learn about/buy from their doctor, therapist, etc. In this review, I’ll run through some of the basic (positive and negative) things you should know about this company and their products.
About The Company
Designs for Health was established in 1989 by registered dietitians Jonathan Lizotte and his wife Linda. Together with a team of nutritionists and health care practitioners, the company started out offering nutrition counseling services. They later shifted gears and focused their efforts toward production and distribution of nutritional products.
DFH is currently one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements in the United States with a wide range of products under their line.
The company headquarters is located at 980 South St, Suffield, Connecticut.
DFH is a practitioner brand, so their products are mainly sold through local health care practitioners and educators who work with the company. You can also order their supplements from a few online retailers that are authorized distributors.
Product Quality and Testing
Most of Designs for Health’s products are manufactured in their own FDA inspected, GMP compliant facilities located in Arlee, MT and Henderson, NV.
The company boasts about their stringent quality control measures and guarantees the authenticity and quality of both raw ingredients and final products.
Their formulations include some branded, patented ingredients as well as generic ones. I could not find information about the sources of their raw ingredients, but they probably work with various local and international suppliers.
Standard lab tests are performed on their raw materials and final products to verify their purity, quality and safety. They do not publicly provide any certificates of analysis or lab reports.
So, do DFH supplements really live up to their premium quality promise?
Most of their customers report being satisfied with the quality of the products, but I did spot a few complaints about half-full powder containers and capsules. In the company’s defense, such technical errors do occasionally happen with most other manufacturers, and I’ve had partially filled capsules from other brands in the past.
Note: Some buyers on Amazon reported receiving old/expired and damaged bottles. Those were likely purchased from unauthorized resellers. In fact, the company has sued and shut down some unauthorized online resellers who were offering DFH products on Amazon and other websites.
Claims, Efficacy and Adverse Effects
Designs for Health offers a variety of branded formulations with multiple ingredients as well as single-ingredient supplements under different categories. Product labels are generally professional with no tall, unscientific claims.
You must keep in mind, however, that the suggested uses and benefits of nutritional supplements are largely based on traditional uses and preliminary scientific research and studies. None of these products has been approved by the FDA for their intended use, nor is there a conclusive evidence that they actually deliver the claimed benefits.
Efficacy does vary from one user to another and several individual factors may influence the effectiveness of nutritional supplements, including diet, age, lifestyle, medical conditions, other medications/supplements and overall health.
There isn’t a single dietary supplement from any brand that has the same efficacy for everyone who takes it. Some people who tried DFH products didn’t get the results they were hoping for.
Some users also complained about adverse effects after taking certain DFH products, such as upset stomach, nausea, headache and others.
Although they use ingredients that are considered generally safe and well-tolerated, your body may respond differently to some substances and you may notice some unwanted side effects.
You should always check the label (supplement facts) of the product you intend to buy, take note of the listed active ingredients and “other ingredients”, and do your own research to make sure none of the ingredients may potentially cause problems for you.
Arguably, the biggest disadvantage of this brand is the premium price tags, so if you are looking to save money on your supplement purchases, you are looking in the wrong place!
The word “overpriced” appears repeatedly in customer reviews, but there are some justifications for their high-end prices:
Unlike other brands that outsource manufacturing to cut costs, Designs for Health operate their own manufacturing facilities. They hire several health care professionals, and they invest a lot of money in marketing their products to physicians across the country.
The Main Pros
- Quality Products: DFH aren’t cheap with their ingredient selection and they use some high quality ingredients. For example, in their fish oil supplements they use the triglyceride form, which has higher bioavailability than cheaper ethyl esters used by other brands.
- Scientific Approach: The company’s motto is “Science First”. They have a team of several health care professionals and experts that help formulate their products, so there is a good deal of scientific research and expertise that goes into their formulations.
- Trusted by Doctors: DFH products are sold at many practitioner offices across the U.S., Canada, Australia, UK and other countries. Yes, they do profit from each product they sell, but if they hadn’t been convinced that this is a genuine company I don’t think many would choose to stake their professional reputation on it.
- Pre-Made Formulas: In addition to single-ingredient supplements, like vitamins, DFH also have a large selection of pre-made formulas across diverse categories. These formulas are typically designed to address the most common causes of different health issues.
The Main Cons
- Lack of Consumer Education: As a practitioner-focused rather than direct-to-consumer brand, DFH products are labeled “For Professional Use Only”. They don’t provide much details on the benefits, dosage, side effects, and in which cases a certain product may/may not work. They expect consumers to get such advice from doctors/naturopaths who distribute their products. So if you are going to buy from an online retailer, you’ll have to do some research yourself on the ingredients and their potential benefits and side effects.
- Results Vary: This is a typical issue with all dietary supplements. While most users seem to report a positive experience with DFH products, some others had no success. This is more evident with the pre-made formulas, because the more ingredients in a supplement, the more likely different people will have different results and side effects.
- Expensive: You’re not just paying for raw ingredients here, you’re paying for an established brand. It’s up to you if you want to spend your money on a premium brand. If you are on a tight budget, you can find cheaper alternatives.
Where to Buy DFH Supplements?
Besides local doctor offices, a few online health stores are authorized to sell Designs for Health products. One of the good places that carry this brand is PureFormulas. They offer free shipping coupled with excellent customer service. They also carry many other reputable brands of dietary supplements.
Alternatives For Those on a Tight Budget
As I said earlier, one of the main drawbacks of DFH is that most of their products are on the higher end of the price scale. For buyers on a tight budget, there are some other worthy, less pricey brands to consider. I can recommend a couple of brands that offer high quality products at very competitive prices: Jarrow Formulas and Country Life.
You may not find some of the branded formulations that DFH offers elsewhere, at least not with the exact same ingredients and dosages, but more economic substitutes can be found for simpler formulas, especially those with only one or two ingredients. If a certain product has been prescribed to you by a health care professional, it is advised to consult with them first before replacing it with another product.