Ordering vitamins from Canada in the USA?
May 17, 2017 4:57 PM   Subscribe

Is it legal to order vitamins from Canada in the US? All I'm finding is info on importing prescription drugs from Canada for personal use (not legal, but often ignored) or on the legality of bringing vitamins/supplements to Canada from the US.

I'm extremely deficient in Vitamin D, to the point that I just finished a prescription of 8 once-weekly doses of 50,000 IU vitamin D.

My doctor wants me to start taking vitamin D supplements, but vitamins aren't regulated in the U.S. and it's given me pause to read news about companies releasing supplements which aren't what they say they are and/or might give you lead poisoning.

Is it legal to order vitamins in the US from a Canadian store? (I think it probably is, but I'd rather know for sure, just as I'd rather know for sure that my vitamin D isn't horseradish, pencil shavings, and lead.)

Bonus question: if it is legal, what are some reliable online pharmacies in Canada?
posted by johnofjack to Law & Government (7 answers total)
The thing about vitamin D in particular is that Health Canada makes it difficult to buy anything over 1,000 IU. The 5,000 IU that I take is behind the counter at my local store. Sometimes they ask me if I work for Health Canada before they'll give it to me. If I remember correctly, they import it from the US.
posted by delezzo at 6:16 AM on May 18, 2017

Rather than importing from Canada, your best bet is probably going to find a US company that makes its products in the US and submits them to an unaffiliated lab for efficacy testing. There are plenty of these. I myself use vitamin D from Sports Research—-in my experience, the sports or bodybuilding-oriented supplement companies tend to do a lot more "proving" of their products since athletes demand it.

To answer your actual questions, though, it is totally legal to import vitamins from Canada, as long as it's not a supplement that has been banned in the US. You could drive back with vitamins across the border with no trouble and so it is also fine to have such items mailed to you.
posted by kindall at 11:39 AM on May 18, 2017

Thanks, delezzo; that's interesting info about the dosage.

kindall, I looked for what would be basically a Consumer Reports of vitamins earlier but failed to find one--what do you recommend?
posted by johnofjack at 3:36 PM on May 18, 2017

I just look on Amazon for what people like, and then investigate the companies that make those products.
posted by kindall at 11:13 PM on May 18, 2017

It's much much much harder to import stuff from the US into Canada than from Canada to the US.

In Canada, supplements (including vitamins) have a NPN (natural product number) - for example Jamieson vitamin D (1000 UI 25mcg) is NPN 80000436.

I'm pretty sure that anything with a NPN will cross the border just fine.
posted by porpoise at 9:22 AM on May 19, 2017

Oh, and about the "pencil shavings" thing - microcrystalline cellulose is totally a legit inactive ingredient. Yes, it's derived from wood but it is highly refined. It is used to bulk up pills to a convenient size.

Don't get me started on the fearmongering over magnesium stearate (self link).
posted by porpoise at 9:37 AM on May 19, 2017

Thanks again, everyone. This gives me something to go on.
posted by johnofjack at 10:53 AM on May 20, 2017

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