Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
The frequently asked questions are organized into the sections outlined below. If you have a different question or concern, please use the contact page.
The Supplement Database is a research-driven supplement review tool. It translates conclusions from peer-reviewed, scientific research articles into easy to understand ratings on both supplement ingredients and products. Currently, the database contains ratings for 227 ingredients in 23 categories, 1,777 products from 498 manufacturers in 16 categories. Ratings are based on conclusions from 980 research articles on 70 distinct claims.
Many supplement review websites use subjective measurements to rate products. Other websites describe how well a product seems to work from an individual's point of view. The Supplement Database uses objective measurements to rate supplements. These objective measurements come from 980 peer-reviewed research articles. The conclusions from these studies, along with other product data, are the only factors used to rate supplements. Subjective measurements such as how well a blogger thinks the supplement works, how good someone thinks it tastes, or how cool a manufacturer's website is are all irrelevant in the database's ratings. Read more: What is the purpose of the Supplement Database?
The database is a one-person operation. My name is Ken Bendor and I launched this website back in 2019 to provide the objective supplement reviews based on peer-reviewed research articles.
Supplement ingredients form the foundation of the database. Ingredients include amino acids, proteins, plant extracts, vitamins, and minerals. The database includes 227 ingredients in 23 categories. Manufacturers combine multiple ingredients to form a supplement product. Supplement products include pre-workouts, sleep aids, and immune system boosters. The database includes 1,777 products in 16 categories. An ingredient's rating comes from conclusions found in scientific journal articles. A product's rating is derived from the ingredients it's made up of.
The database uses conclusions from 980 research articles to rate supplement ingredients. These research articles test ingredients on a specific claim. For example, creatine monohydrate's ability to increase strength, or, whey protein's ability to reduce muscle damage. Research articles generally come to one of three conclusions: 1) the supplement did not deliver on the claim, or, 2) the supplement delivered on a claim in certain circumstances, or, 3) the supplement was able to significantly deliver on the claim. The database tabulates conclusions from multiple research articles to give ingredients both an overall effectiveness rating and a claim specific rating. Supplement products are rated based on their ingredients' ratings (more below).
Please use the contact page to submit any listing requests. If you're requesting the inclusion of a product, please include the website that provides a clear product label of all ingredients in the message body.
No, none of the products listed or rated by the database required an inclusion fee. The only requirement for a product to get listed in the database is to have a publicly available and readable ingredient listing.
If you have a question not covered below, please use the contact page.
Supplement ingredients are rated based on conclusions from scientific research articles. Each ingredient receives an overall effectiveness rating, a claim specific effectiveness rating, an overall research rating, and a claim specific research rating. Effectiveness ratings describe how well an ingredient works. Research ratings describe how much evidence is available. Read more: How does the database rate supplement ingredients?
Supplement ingredients are rated based on conclusions found in peer-reviewed research articles. These studies typically test an ingredient against a specific claim, for example: does whey protein help speed up recovery, or, does drinking a certain carbohydrate improve sprinting performance? The studies generally come to one of three conclusions: 1) the ingredient did not lead to any improvement, or, 2) the ingredient led to some improvement, or, 3) the ingredient led to a significant improvement. Each study provides one grade (1, 2, or 3) to an ingredient for a specific claim. These numbers are added up and averaged to paint a picture of a supplement's overall effectiveness. For example, if there are two studies on creatine monohydrate, one concluding it showed significant improvement (3), the other showing moderate improvement (2), the overall effectiveness rating would be a 2.5. Ingredients with ratings equal to or greater than 2.5 are considered extremely effective, ratings greater or equal to 1.5 and less than 2.5 are moderately effective, ratings less than 1.5 are considered ineffective.
The effectiveness rating describes how well an ingredient works. If you find one study saying an ingredient increases muscle mass, should you believe it? Probably not. Unfortunately, many manufacturers do just this; they justify selling a certain ingredient even though there is very little evidence showing its effectiveness. Generally, you want to find multiple studies showing the effectiveness of an ingredient before deciding to use it. The research rating is a measure of how much evidence is available on an ingredient. A high effectiveness rating is useless if it only comes from one study. Research ratings are assigned to each ingredient and each claim. For example, there may be a lot of evidence on creatine monohydrate's ability to increase strength, but very little on its ability to improve endurance. The research rating for increasing strength would be high, however, it would be low for improving endurance. Each ingredient also has an overall research rating. A research rating greater than or equal to 60 is a good sign there is enough evidence to decide for or against using a specific ingredient.
The effectiveness rating deals with how well a supplement ingredient works. The research rating tells you whether or not the effectiveness rating is valid. If the effectiveness rating is high but only comes from one study, it's difficult to make any concrete conclusions until more research is found. Ideally, you should only make determinations about an ingredient's worthiness when the research rating is high; a score above 60. Read more: What’s the difference between effectiveness and research ratings?
Each ingredient has both an overall effectiveness rating and a claim specific effectiveness rating. Studies are performed on an ingredient's ability to improve a specific claim (increase muscle mass, increase strength, or improve endurance). Often, an ingredient is good at one claim, but horrible at others. The ingredient's overall effectiveness rating does not give you much information on how it performs on individual claims. Creatine monohydrate, for example, is great at increasing strength, but not so great at improving endurance. You wouldn't be able to tell only by looking at its overall effectiveness rating.
Just as ingredients have overall and claim specific effectiveness ratings (see the previous question), they also have overall and claim specific research ratings. For example, the research rating for creatine monohydrate increasing muscle mass is very high, meaning there are a lot of studies in the database on this topic. The research rating for creatine monohydrate's ability to improve running performance is, however, low, meaning there are not a lot of studies in the database on the topic. You would not be able to see this only by looking at creatine monohydrate's overall research rating.
When researchers conduct studies on supplement ingredients, they test a specific claim with a specific dose (sometimes multiple doses). The conclusions of these studies state how well each dose worked at improving the claim. The database takes these doses and conclusions and displays them on the dosing page. A specific dose is rated as either ineffective, moderately effective, or extremely effective. Only doses found as either moderately or extremely effective are displayed on the ingredient's dosing page. Read more: Supplement Ingredient Dosing
There is no real method of choosing products to include in the database. Typically, when I see a product advertised on the web, Facebook, or Instagram, I take a screenshot, add it to the backlog, and add it when I get a chance. A publically available ingredients list is the only requirement for inclusion. If there's a product that's not currently included in the database, send a link using the contact page.
Supplement products are rated in seven areas: effectiveness, nutrition label transparency, ingredient makeup, claim makeup, research rating, ingredient dosing, and ranking within its category. The product receives a thumb up or down in each category for a maximum of seven thumbs up. If a product receives at least 4 thumbs up, its overall rating is a thumbs up, otherwise, its overall rating is a thumbs down. Read more: How does the database rate supplement products?
Products are ranked according to how many thumbs up they receive in the seven rated areas. The tie-breaker among products with the same total thumbs up is a product's effectiveness rating.
Products are given two rankings: the first is their ranking out of all 1,777 products in the entire database, the second is their ranking within their category.
Ingredients get their effectiveness rating from the conclusions of studies. Products get their effectiveness rating from the ingredients they contain. For example, creatine monohydrate's effectiveness rating is currently 2 and beta alanine's is 2. If there was a product that contained just these two ingredients, it's effectiveness rating would come from averaging their effectiveness rating which comes to 2 out of 3. A product's effectiveness rating paints a picture of how well its ingredients work. Products with an effectiveness rating greater than or equal to 2.5 are considered extremely effective, greater than or equal to 1.5 but less than 2.5 is considered moderately effective, anything less than 1.5 is considered ineffective. A product must have an effectiveness rating of at least 1.5 to receive a thumbs up in this area.
A product's nutrition label transparency tells you the percentage of ingredients on its label listed with amounts. Often, manufacturers hide ingredient amounts under proprietary formulas. A big part of rating a product is evaluating its ingredient amounts. Evaluating the overall effectiveness of a product is impossible if a label does not disclose ingredient amounts. A label transparency score of 100 means 100% of its ingredients are listed with amounts. A product must disclose all ingredient amounts to receive a thumbs up in this area. Read more: What are proprietary blends?
A product's ingredient makeup is the percentage of its ingredients rated as moderately or extremely effective. Ingredients must receive an effectiveness rating of at least 1.5 to be labeled as moderately effective. A product must be made up of at least 75% of moderately or extremely effective ingredients to receive a thumbs up in this area.
A product is given an overall rating as well as a claim specific rating. An overall rating does not necessarily tell the whole picture of what a product is good at. Just as some ingredients might be great at increasing strength and bad at improving endurance, products may be great at certain claims while providing no benefits in others. A product's specific claim rating is based on its ingredient profile. A product containing only creatine monohydrate will score highly in increasing strength and poorly in improving endurance. A product must be moderately or extremely effective in at least 75% of its claims to receive a thumbs up in this area.
A product's research rating is a measure of how much research is available on its ingredients. A product that uses sparsely researched ingredients, or ingredients with no research backing at all, will have a low research rating. A product must have a research rating of at least 60 to receive a thumbs up in this area.
An ingredient's effective dosing range is set by conclusions from its studies. It's not enough for a product to be made up of effective ingredients, it also must dose its ingredients within effective ranges. A product must dose at least 75% of its ingredients within effective ranges to receive a thumbs up in this area.
Products are ranked (#1 down to the last) against all other products within a category. The ranking is based on how many thumbs up a product receives. The tiebreaker for products receiving the same number of thumbs up is the effectiveness rating. A product must be ranked within the top two-thirds of its category to receive a thumbs up in this area.
There are several ways to find products in the database. The most powerful tool is the product filter. This tool uses several filters to help you find the perfect supplement including category, manufacturer, rating, ingredients to include or avoid, label transparency, claim ratings, and serving size unit. If you're looking for a specific product, use the simple keyword search. If you're not looking for anything specific, you can browse all products or category specific products here.
Products are assigned to a specific category (pre-workout, intra-workout, fat burners..) based on a manufacturer's marketing materials.
Many manufacturers choose to include ingredients with little or no research backing. If you are aware of peer-reviewed articles on ingredients not included in the database, send a link using the contact page.
Use the contact page for submission requests.
Please use the contact page.